Researchers at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) have discovered a previously unknown species of dinosaur that lived about 190 million years ago. The new species, named Qianlong shouhu, belongs to a group of dinosaurs known as sauropodomorphs.
In addition to the adult specimens, the Chinese researchers also found about 50 fossilized eggs of the same species laid in five different nests that contained skeletal remains of embryos inside them. Both the adults and the eggs are believed to date back to about 190 million years ago, the Jurassic period.
According to a study published in the journal National Science Review, an analysis of the eggs showed that they were elliptical and relatively small. The eggshells may have had a skin-like texture, a discovery that sheds new light on our understanding of dinosaur reproduction.
Leathered eggs are the oldest known
A study by IVPP scientists has shown that Qianlong shouhu's eggshells were semi-hard and were between soft, like snake eggs, and hard, like chicken eggs. This challenges existing ideas about the nature of the earliest dinosaur eggs.
"After analysis, we concluded that its eggshell was semi-hard and was between soft, like snake eggs, and hard, like chicken eggs. In contrast to existing arguments that the earliest dinosaur eggs were soft or hard, we claim that this is the first time that the earliest dinosaur eggs were semi-hard," said Han Fenglu, first author of the study and professor at the School of Earth Sciences at the China University of Geosciences in Wuhan.
The study also shed light on the behavioral patterns and reproductive strategies of early dinosaurs.
For example, the researchers found that the skeletons of embryos inside eggs found in Qianlong Shouhu nests were at the same stages of development. This indicates that these dinosaurs hatched at the same time as modern sea turtles, a strategy that reduces the risk of an individual being eaten by predators after escaping from the egg.
The discovery of Qianlong shouhu is an important step in our understanding of the early evolution of dinosaurs. It shows that these animals were more diverse than we previously thought, and that they used different breeding strategies to survive and thrive.
As a reminder, a 2nd century Roman city in excellent condition was discovered in Morocco.
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