Dinosaur Embryos Give Up Beasts' Secrets

They reveal dinos grew faster in egg than any animal known

By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 11, 2013 9:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – A trove of 195 million-year-old fossilized dinosaur embryos—among the oldest ever found—has given scientists an "unprecedented" look at how those ancient creatures grew. The Wall Street Journal reports on the Chinese discovery, which first came to light three years ago and is believed to be the remains of what would have grown into the 30-feet-long Lufengosaurus, a common plant-eater in the early Jurassic period. "These things were growing faster [in the egg] than anything we've ever seen—faster than any living mammal or bird today or any known dinosaur," says the paleontologist who led the expedition.

Dinosaur eggs are usually found mostly intact, so people are reluctant to cut them open and examine the embryos. But these bones, found in Dawa, Yunnan Province, China, weren't encased in eggs, or even near the remains of a nest or mother; scientists have thus far unearthed 200 tiny bones among crushed eggshells, and note that they comprise embryos in different stages of development. Researchers think the eggs were probably swamped and crushed by a flood. Another neat revelation from the find: Dinosaurs probably kicked and twitched in their eggs, reports LiveScience.

A 190-million-year-old dinosaur bonebed near the city of Lufeng, in Yunnan, China has revealed for the first time how dinosaur embryos grew and developed.
A 190-million-year-old dinosaur bonebed near the city of Lufeng, in Yunnan, China has revealed for the first time how dinosaur embryos grew and developed.   (UTMississauga)
A 190-million-year-old dinosaur bonebed has revealed for the first time how dinosaur embryos grew and developed in their eggs.
A 190-million-year-old dinosaur bonebed has revealed for the first time how dinosaur embryos grew and developed in their eggs.   (LabEquipment)
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