Oldest dinosaur embryos ever discovered in China

Apr 11, 2013

China has proven home to the world's oldest found fossilized dinosaur embryos, with palaeontologists having uncovered several of them representing different stages of development. Such a discovery has provided scientists with a chance to look at the development of these prehistoric creatures in detail. The discovery is said to be from the Early Jurassic period, which is between 197 million and 190 million years ago.

The discovery was made by the University of Toronto in Mississauga's Robert Reisz and his teach. The embryo fossils are sauropodomorph, and were pulled from a bone bed reported to be in Lufeng County. In addition to those fossils, there are also in excess of 200 bones and a variety of eggshells. In addition, reports Nature, analysis of bone tissue revealed the oldest-yet organic material found in a terrestrial vertebrate.

Such a discovery of organic matter has spurred hope that such recoveries can be made from other fossils, as well. Said the Royal Ontario Museum's Curator of Vertebrate Palaeontology David Evans about the discovery: "Most of our record of dinosaur embryos is concentrated in the Late Cretaceous period. This [study] takes a detailed record of dinosaur embryology and pushes it back over 100 million years."

According to Reisz, the organic material is suspected to be collagen, which could lead to better comparison research with other fossils due to the variation in collagen between different species. For now, the embryos are being studied, and are revealing information about their adult counterparts, such as how they reached their massive size, information about incubation duration, and more.

[via Nature]

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