Paleontologists in China discovered oviraptor egg fossils on Sunday among a group of dinosaur fossils unearthed in Ganzhou, Jiangxi Province. The fossils are of interest to researchers throughout the world, because they preserve adults, embryos, and egg nests together.
The fossils were found in stratum dating back about 70 million years. An adult oviraptor is about 2 meters long, and its hatching posture is the same as that of modern birds. There are 24 eggs in the nest, arranged in three upper and lower rings.
Professor Bi Shundong, the first author of the paper and professor at the Institute of Paleontology of Yunnan University, said that in addition to presenting the oviraptor’s incubation posture, the fossil also contains the on-hatching embryos in the egg nest. This provides the latest evidence for understanding the oviraptor’s incubation behavior and hatching methods.
The oviraptor is a small theropod dinosaur that lived between 125 million and 66 million years ago. Previous researchers have discovered oviraptor egg fossils in Mongolia and the Gobi region of Inner Mongolia. However, due to a lack of embryo fossils discovered in a nest, hypotheses about the oviraptor’s incubation behavior have been controversial for a long time.
“Oviraptors use the asynchronous hatching method, an advanced hatching method among living birds. The reproductive methods of dinosaurs are far more complicated than previously known,” said Xu Xing, the corresponding author of the paper and a researcher at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology.
The results were recently published online in the Chinese Science Bulletin, jointly completed by Yunnan University, the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, and other institutes.
(Compiled by Liao Yuecen)