Baby Yingliang’s appearance just as the year draws to a close has opened a whole new world of understanding for palaeontologists. This well-preserved dinosaur embryo was discovered inside a fossilised egg from the rocks of Ganzhou earlier this week.
The baby embryo is 72-to 66-million-year-old embryo and belongs to Oviraptorosaurs race who lived during the Cretaceous period (145 to 66 million years ago).
This race of toothless theropods roamed Asia and North America. While the egg measures 17-cm long, the embryo runs 27 cm long from head to tail. The report, published in iScience, details the posture as “head lies below the body, with the feet on either side and the back curled along the blunt end of the egg.”
Professor Steve Brusatte from the University of Edinburgh, part of the team documenting the report, stated in a release: “This embryo is one of the most beautiful fossils I have ever seen. This little prenatal creature looks just like a baby bird curled in its egg, which is yet more evidence that many features characteristic of today’s birds first evolved in their dinosaur ancestors.”
The specimen is now housed in China’s Yingliang Stone Nature History Museum. “Dinosaur embryos are some of the rarest fossils and most of them are incomplete with the bones dislocated. We are very excited about this discovery. It will help us with a lot of questions on dinosaur growth and reproduction. For one, we are already close to deducing similar prehatching behaviours between dinosaur embryo and a chicken embryo. Baby’s posture tells us a lot.”