According to a news release, researchers at Yingliang Group, a mining company, believed it contained egg fossils. However, they kept it in storage for ten years. During construction of the Yingliang Stone Natural History Museum boxes of fossils were sorted.
“Museum staff identified them dinosaur eggs and saw bones on the broken cross-section of one of the eggs,” LidaXing, China University of Geosciences in Beijing stated in a press release. They discovered a embryo within and named it “Baby Yingliang”.
The embryo is the part of the theropod category that includes the bird-like Oviraptorosaurs. Theropod is “beast foot,” however theropod feet often resembled birds’ feet. One lineage of small theropods is responsible for birds.
Reconstruction of an oviraptorosaur egg that is close to hatching. Lida Xing/iScience
Researchers discovered that the embryo had a unique tucking posture, which was not seen in birds. The study was published in the iScience journal.
Researchers believe this behavior could have been inherited from non-avian theropods. Waisum Maof, University of Birmingham, U.K., stated that most non-avian dinosaur embryos have skeletons missing and are not complete. “We were amazed to find this embryo preserved in a dinosaur egg lying in a birdlike position. This position was not known in non-avian dinosaurs.
The embryo of an oviraptorosaur, “Baby Yingliang” Lida Xing/iScience
Researchers stated that although fossilized eggs of dinosaurs have been discovered over the past 100 years, it is rare to find a preserved embryo.
This embryo’s position was unique in non-avian dinosaurs. It is also “especially noteworthy because it’s reminiscent a late-stage modern-bird embryo.”
Researchers will continue to examine the rare specimen in greater detail. They will try to visualize its internal anatomy. Some parts of its body are still covered by rocks. These findings can be used to further study fossil embryos.