A rare dinosaur embryo was found inside a fossilised egg.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we can hatch this thing and have our very own dino land but it is helping us learn a lot more about the big beasts.
The incredibly rare, fully intact embryo was found inside a fossilised egg that had been hidden in a storage room for over a decade in a museum in China.
The embryo is thought to be between 66 and 72 million years old and the unborn specimen has revealed an incredible link between dinosaurs and modern birds.
The unhatched baby dinosaur belonged to a group of feathered, toothless theropods known as oviraptorosaurs and is estimated to be about 27 centimetres long. It’s also the first dinosaur embryo displaying a posture that is typical for present-day bird embryos.
Modern birds move around in an array of postures before hatching, in a series of manoeuvres known as ‘tucking’, which is thought to help them escape the egg safely although, the origins of this movement are unknown.
The specimen, nicknamed Baby Yingliang, was discovered and reported on in the journal iScience. The author explained that Baby Yingliang was found with its head “ventral to the body, with the feet on either side, and the back curled along the blunt pole of the egg.”
Yup, this baby dinosaur was ‘tucking’, the same way a modern bird does before hatching.
They went on to say that this posture was “previously unrecognized in a non-avian dinosaur, but reminiscent of a late-stage modern bird embryo.”
Our little one has just arrived. Welcome Baby Yingliang, a gorgeous fossil dinosaur embryo preserved inside its egg!
You're looking here at a baby dinosaur, not too long before it would have hatched. pic.twitter.com/NtXE8XODjT
— Steve Brusatte (@SteveBrusatte) December 21, 2021
Study author, Professor Steve Brusatte said: “This little prenatal dinosaur 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 scientist concluded by saying: “this new exceptional fossil embryo hints that some early developmental behaviors (tucking) often considered as uniquely avian may be rooted more deeply in the theropod lineage.”
While we may all be a little devo that the discovery won’t lead to a Jurassic Park of our own, maybe we can play pretend with the birds we have in our backyards. They really are just mini dinosaurs after all.