Giant bird-like dinosaur species found in China

Barsaba Taglieri
Mag 12, 2017

Now that we know who laid the odd eggs, researchers could learn more about how these animals reproduced and reared their young, says palaeontologist David Varricchio of Montana State University, who was not part of the new study. "So discovering a fossilized dinosaur embryo is equivalent to winning the lottery". However, the rest of the eggs in the nest looked nothing like those of a T-Rex, having the same shape as those of oviraptorosaurs.

The eggs weighed about 11 pounds, making them some of the largest dinosaur eggs ever uncovered. But just like ancient trackways, it can be very hard to connect prehistoric eggs with the species that produced them. Now, an worldwide team of researchers has cracked a part of the riddle.

Paleontologist Darla Zelenitsky from the University of Calgary, lead author of the study, tells Guarino that although she saw the fossil soon after it made its way to North America in the 1990s, she was unsure if it was illegally collected and only wanted to write about the fossil after it was returned to China. However, baby Louie was the only fossil found near the eggs. This illustration also shows how it would have curled up inside as it developed.

The new species of the dinosaur has been named Beibeilong sinensis or baby dragon from China.

A new species of a bird-like dinosaur that weighed three tons and was eight metres long has been discovered in China.

The name of the dinosaur was based on the stillborn baby and translates as "baby dragon from China".

They were likely covered in feathers, had robust, toothless beaks and often sported a crest on the top of their heads. Could the USA eggs hold an ancestor of Baby Louie that later migrated to Asia?

However, our picture of these dinosaurs' diversity may be lacking.

Now, researchers were finally able to study the fossil and grant it its place in the dinosaur family, in which the prehistoric animal is identified as baby giant oviraptorosaur. It's the fossilized remains of a Late Cretaceous dino embryo, gracing the cover of National Geographic in the 1990s while classification is still eluding it.

The Beibelongembryo nicknamed Baby Louie. It took an estimated 700 hours of meticulous excavation from encasing rocks, but the eggs and embryo were finally revealed (and featured in a 1996 National Geographic article). In 2001, the fossil was displayed in the Indianapolis Children's Museum, so they had to wait longer. Researchers believed that at the time of its death, the baby dinosaur was still inside its egg.

The researchers, who published their findings on Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, cracked the mystery of the eggs which had thus far eluded other researchers by examining both the shell fragments and the bones of an embryo that died while hatching. Scientists were reluctant to publish research about the fossil while, controversially, it remained in private hands outside its home country of China.

Based on the structure of Baby Louie's facial bones and other anatomical features, the team declared the dinosaur a new species.

They say it is the first known specimen of a enormous bird-like dinosaur belonging to the group known as oviraptorosaurs. "It is hard to compare babies of one species with adults of another".

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