If you’re keen to keep up with the latest dinosaur news, you may have heard that a fossilised dinosaur egg has been found in China. The discovery, made late last year, sheds light on the link between the pre-natal behaviour of dinosaurs and modern birds, and has generated a lot of excitement in the scientific community.
So why is this egg so important? Well, it contains an almost perfect embryo – that’s the name for a developing animal, before it’s reached the stage when it’s ready to hatch, or be born. The fact that the embryo is so well preserved enables scientists to answer lots of questions about how dinosaurs grew and reproduced.
The embryo has been named Baby Yingliang, and was discovered in Ganzhou in southern China. It’s thought to be from the Late Cretaceous period, 66-72 million years ago. Baby Yingliang is an oviraptorosaur – a kind of feathered, toothless dinosaur – and has the distinction of being positioned with its head below the body inside the egg, with the feet on either side. This posture is considered optimal, as it reduces the chance of death due to unsuccessful hatching. It has not previously been found among dinosaurs (only birds), which suggests an evolutionary link between the two.
The egg is now housed in the Yingliang Stone Nature History Museum.
Have dinosaur eggs been found in Britain?
The last dinosaur egg to be found in the UK was in 1997, when thousands of eggshell fragments were discovered in a quarry on the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset. The fragments, estimated to be around 140 million years old, were found alongside one half of the hind leg of an embryo, and hundreds of reptile teeth, including some from vegetarian and meat-eating dinosaurs. The find was painstaking, since the pieces of eggshell were tiny – measuring between half a millimetre and two millimetres across.
Where can I see Dinosaurs?
A museum of natural history is the obviously place to go and see dinosaur fossils and learn about the various types of reptiles that walked our planet millions of years ago. The Natural History Museum in London has a particularly important dinosaur exhibition, not to mention Dippy, a huge plaster cast replica of a diplodocus skeleton.
But did you know you can also see dinosaurs in action this summer? If you’re looking for places to visit in Cardiff, head to New Theatre to catch Dinosaur World Live, a stunning show that uses amazing puppetry to bring these fearsome beasts to life. It tells the story of Miranda, the daughter of palaeontologists, who has grown up living among dinosaurs on a far-away island. She’s brought her prehistoric friends to the UK – and meeting them is one of the best things to do in Cardiff for families this July! Book your tickets today.