Paleontologists have discovered a previously unseen fossil of a fully developed baby dinosaur coiled up inside its egg. According to a new study, the fossil revealed striking parallels between theropod dinosaurs and the birds they would evolve into.
The 70-million-year-old fossilized embryo has been given the moniker “Baby Yingliang” in honor of the Chinese museum that houses it. Inside its 6-inch elongated eggshell, the embryo is curled up. The embryo resembles a modern bird at this stage, although it lacks wings and has short limbs and claws.
The egg is around 17cm in length, with the newborn dinosaur curled within, measuring about 27cm from head to tail. According to researchers, it would have grown to be roughly 2 m to 3 m long as an adult if it had lived.
Finding fetal dinosaur fossils is extremely unusual, with just around a half-dozen locations having been discovered. This is also the first time any of them has shown traces of “tucking,” a characteristic posture adopted by infant birds before hatching in which the head is tucked beneath the right arm, according to paleontologists.
This week, the findings were published in the science journal. Baby dinosaur bones are small and delicate, according to study co-author Darla Zelenitsky, and are only very infrequently preserved as fossils, making this a fortunate find. It’s an incredible specimen. I’ve worked on dinosaur eggs for 25 years and have never seen anything quite like that. “
The study’s primary author, Waisum Ma, stated, “We were taken aback when we discovered this baby laying in a bird-like posture within a dinosaur egg. This stance had never been seen before in non-avian dinosaurs. “
The fossil, discovered in Jiangxi province, had been stored for almost ten years before being discovered by Yingliang Stone Nature History Museum personnel who were sorting through the boxes.