FROM THE EDUCATION DESK
Can you believe Easter is almost here? I hope for all of you that it is a wonderful holiday and that you will visit us during the month of April for the fun events we are planning.
FYI: A Remarkable Find
Oviraptorosaurs, a type of theropod, were feathered dinosaurs with short, small parrot-like skulls. They thrived during the Cretaceous period between 65.5 million and 145.5 million years ago. Many of their fossilized remains are found preserved in Ganzhou area of southern China.
Within 70-million-year-old rock deposits in Jiangxi Province, researchers unearthed a preserved fossil of an oviraptorosaur crouched over a nest of 24 eggs, reports Alaa Elassar for CNN. Seven of the eggs were on the verge of hatching, making this the only fossil on record to have evidence of a dinosaur brooding on eggs that still had embryonic material inside and the first hard evidence that this species of dinosaur incubated their young, reports Laura Greggel for Live Science.
The first evidence that the oviraptorosaur were nurturing to their young was found in southern China. This recently recovered fossil is missing its skull and part of its vertebrae. It’s forearms, hind legs, and part of its tail were intact, and remarkably, the nest of 24 oval-shaped eggs were well-preserved. Each of the eggs measured 8.5 inches long and three inches across. In seven of the eggs, researchers found bones and embryos of the baby dinos in curled positions. These dinosaurs are also called “egg thief lizards”.
“Dinosaurs preserved on their nests are rare, and so are fossil embryos. This is the first time a non-avian dinosaur has been found, sitting on a nest of eggs that preserve embryos, in a single spectacular specimen,” says study co-author Shundong Bi, a paleontologist at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
The parent dinosaur was found sitting above the eggs with its forearms covering the nest. It is thought that the dinosaur was incubating the eggs for a long time because the eggs were almost ready to hatch. The research team analyzed oxygen isotopes within the dinosaur embryos and fossilized eggshells. They found that the embryos were incubated at 86 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which is consistent with the parent dinosaurs body temperature.
They also found gastroliths, (pebbles in the adults’ abdominal region), which may have helped them grind and digest their food.