This is the most exciting news for the world of paleontology. A team of archaeological researchers discovered a dinosaur fossil that is said to be the first of its kind ever.
The fossil of an ‘Oviraptorosaur – a bird-like creature of the Cretaceous period found sitting on its nest full of eggs.’
This scientific discovery was published in the Journal Science Bulletin.
This dinosaur fossil with eggs in its nest is the first of its kind ever to be found.
These bird-like theropods lived in the Cretaceous period of the Mesozoic Era between 145 to 66 million years ago.
Carbon dating this dinosaur fossil, scientists were able to estimate that this creature lived 70 million years ago. This first-of-its-kind specimen was discovered in Ganzhou city in southern China’s Jiangxi province.
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The researchers were able to identify an incomplete skeletal structure of an adult oviraptorid sitting in a crouched position in its nest over a clutch of 24 eggs. Of these 24 eggs, 7 had preserved partial skeletons of the unhatched embryos.
Based on the stage of embryo development and the posture of the adult in this dinosaur fossil, the researchers suggest that they died during incubation.
This excavation was led by Dr. Shundong Bi, a research associate at Carnegie Museum of Natural History (CMNH) and professor at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Xing Xu, Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing.
“Dinosaurs preserved on their nests are rare, and so are fossil embryos. This is the 1st time a non-avian dinosaur has been found, sitting on a nest of eggs that preserve embryos in a single spectacular specimen,” Dr. Shundong Xi said in a statement about the dinosaur fossil.
Based on the Oxygen isotope analysis, they found that the clutch of eggs was incubated at aves-incubating temperatures, further adding evidential support to the hypothesis of adults taking part in the brooding of their eggs. In this specimen, they found pebbles in the adult’s abdominal cavity making them strongly suggest that they were ‘gastroliths’.
Gastroliths are classified as a group of creatures that purposefully swallow stones to aid their digestive process.
The discovery of these pebbles in their abdominal region may reveal a lot of info about their diet, the researchers said.
“It’s extraordinary to think how much biological information is captured in just this single fossil. We’re going to be learning from this specimen for many years to come,” Dr. Xu said in a report.