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An international team of paleontologists led by Professor Robert Reisz of the University of Toronto have unearthed a bed of Early Jurassic bones from fossilized dinosaur embryos and eggshells in Lufeng County (China).
There are more than 200 disarticulated embryonic bones in different stages of growth ranging from 190 to 197 million years old, making them the oldest dinosaur embryos ever discovered.
In 2005, Robert Reisz's team found a Massospondylus Dinosaur Hatchery fossilized in southern Africa, dating back 190 million years, which, until Lufeng's discovery, held the record for the oldest embryos ever discovered.
Like the South African embryos, these are also of the "sauropodomorph”, Probably from Lufengosaurus, long-necked herbivores. Unlike the Massospondylus fossils, there were no intact eggs and nests at the Lufeng discovery, but bones and broken eggshells. This has provided researchers with an extremely valuable opportunity to study dinosaur embryology by examining bone tissues at the cellular level, as there was little they could do when the embryos were still encased in their eggs.
The hatchery was first discovered three years ago by Timothy Huang, a professional chemist and amateur archaeologist. The site has been completely excavated in an area of three square meters, where they found the 200 bones. Since the embryos are not all in the same stage of development, this place was not a single nest. Researchers believe the area was close to water for some time, as the “sauropodomorphsThey would often lay their eggs next to the water, but it possibly flooded, causing the eggs to hatch.
Upon analysis, the scientists found 20 different femurs from embryos. The team focused on the fourth trochanter, a bony projection of the leg muscles to attach the bone to the muscle, and found that, in Lufengosaurus, this process developed very rapidly in eggs, as did birds and mammals. modern and not current reptiles, which are slower. They also found that the radial growth of the femur was asymmetric over most of the fourth trochanter, suggesting that the small ones were kicking into the eggs.
These bone tissue samples provide the oldest examples of complex organic material from a terrestrial vertebrate preserved in situ. The discovery may give paleontologists a whole new area of study to focus on in the future.
Almost graduated in Advertising and Public Relations. I started to like history in 2nd year of high school thanks to a very good teacher who made us see that we have to know our past to know where the future takes us. Since then I have not had the opportunity to inquire further into all that our history offers us, but now I can take up that concern and share it with you.