Dinosaur: 66 million years ago, an ovirraptor chick—or some other therapod—was about to hatch from its egg when it was buried in mud. The baby, dubbed Yingliang (“Great Hero”), was fossilized and discovered by scientists in Ganzhou Province, China.
Yingliang is the best preserved dinosaur embryo ever discovered. The fossil shows that the developing dinosaur was in the position known as “tucking”, folded. This is behavior seen in birds, and the discovery represents yet another connection between these animals.
Dinosaur embryos in this position had never been found. “This indicates that the behavior in modern birds originated in the dinosaur ancestors,” says Fion Waisum Ma, a paleontologist at the University of Birmingham.
In birds, the “tucking” position allows the chicks to break the egg house with their beaks. To remain stable, they must put their head under the right wing. Those who do not reach this position have the greatest chance of dying during the hatch.
Paleontologist Steve Brusatte, who was also on the research team, commented on the case: “It’s one of the most impressive dinosaur fossils I’ve ever seen.”