Scientists have discovered a perfectly preserved dinosaur embryo that was preparing to be born, just as animals like chickens do.
It was discovered in the city of Ganzhou in southern China, and researchers estimate that it is at least 66 million years old.
It is believed to have been a toothless theropod or Oviraptosaurus. Experts named him Baby Yingliang.
Fion Waisum Ma, one of the scientists associated with the discovery, said it is “Best Dinosaur Embryo Ever Found”.
This discovery gave researchers a greater understanding of the relationship between dinosaurs and modern birds. The fossil shows that the fetus was in a coiled position known as “folding,” a behavior seen in birds shortly before they hatched.
“This suggests that such behavior in modern birds evolved for the first time among their dinosaur ancestors.”Ma told Agence France-Presse.
Ovirraptorosaurs, which means “egg-stealing lizards,” were feathered dinosaurs that lived in what is now Asia and North America during the late Cretaceous period, about 100 to 66 million years ago.
Paleontologist Steve Brusatte, who was also part of the research team, tweeted that it was “one of the most impressive dinosaur fossils” he’s ever seen and that the embryo is about to hatch.
Baby Yingliang is 27 cm long from head to tail and is housed inside a 17 cm long egg found in the Yingliang Stone Museum of Natural History in China.
The egg was discovered in 2000, but has been stored for 10 years.
Just when construction began on the museum and the ancient fossils were classified, researchers turned their attention to the egg, which they suspected contained an embryo inside.
Part of the dinosaur’s body is still covered in rocks, and researchers will use advanced scanning techniques to create an image of its complete skeleton.
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