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China’s First Clutches of Embryo-containing Eggs of Dinosaurs Shed Light on Origin of Dinosaur Eggs

Nov 15, 2023  

“Exceptional Early Jurassic fossils with leathery eggs shed light on dinosaur reproductive biology” jointly written by the researchers from CUG, Guizhou Provincial Museum, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Yunnan University, and other organizations is published in National Science Review. The paper reported some exceptional Early Jurassic fossils (~190Ma) from Pingba District, Anshun City, Guizhou Province, and proposed and demonstrated that the first dinosaur eggs were probably leathery. It also revealed some behaviors of early dinosaurs including colonial nesting, synchronous hatching, and transitional prehatching postures. The new species is named Qianlong shouhu: Qianlong means “Guizhou dragon”, while shouhu means “guarding” - a reference to the preservation of adult skeletal fossils in association with embryo-containing egg fossils.


Skeletal morphology of Qianlong shouhu (A, B); skeletal silhouettes of the adult and the embryo (C); egg clutch (D); the embryonic-skeleton-containing egg and 3D reconstruction of the embryo (E, F)


Reimaging of Qianlong Shouhu (by REN Minghui)


Photographs and scaling of diapsid eggshell type, thickness, and fragment size.

Associate Professor HAN Fenglu, the first and corresponding author of the paper, said, “The eight-year research is the result of the efforts of all authors. Our findings have challenged the previous theory that dinosaurs originated from soft-shell eggs and have changed our understanding of the structures of early dinosaur eggs, which is significant to our knowledge of the reproductive biology of dinosaurs.


Eggshell type ASR under hierarchal Bayes framework with new scoring and ARD model (two rate classes; using majority rule consensus tree of run1 in the first dating analysis).


(Edited and translated from the Chinese version)

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