8:34 AM PST, December 29, 2021
A 72-million-year-old dinosaur embryo was discovered inside a fossilized egg. And scientists are calling it one of the best-preserved specimens of its kind ever found.
The embryo, named Baby Yingliang, was found in southern China, and it belongs to a toothless theropod dinosaur.
“After careful fossil preparation, basically we see the whole skeleton very clearly,” Dr. Fion Waisum Ma, lead author of Study on Dinosaur Embryo at the University Of Birmingham, said.
“Although some body parts are still embedded inside the dinosaur egg. And we can see a very clean and well-preserved skull that doesn’t have any teeth, and this feature is actually, it’s very typical in Oviratorosaur.”
Scientists from the University of Birmingham in the UK and the China University of Geosciences in Beijing saw the embryo in a tucking position, which pre-hatched birds do.
“It will start moving into a final tucking posture that is putting the right weight on top of its head, and this posture was suggested to help the birds stabilize when they try to crack the egg shell using its beak,” they added.
“And this behavior has long been thought unique to birds, but now we see evidence in our fossil that even in non-bird dinosaurs, they might have the same type of pre-hatching behavior.”
The fossilized egg was discovered back in 2000, but scientists have been examining it over the last four years when the embryo inside was found.