First complete sauropod embryo discovered

March 23rd, 2011 - 3:14 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Mar 23 (ANI): Palaeontologists have discovered the first complete sauropod embryo, still sheltered inside its egg some 110 million years after it was laid.

The egg, uncovered during a Soviet expedition in Mongolia in the late 1960s, was shelved for decades and then passed to the National Science Museum in Daejeon, South Korea, before coming to the hands of Gerald Grellet-Tinner at the Field Museum in Chicago.

Researchers had earlier found tiny sauropod skulls inside unhatched eggs in Argentina.

“But we’ve never found the whole thing glued together before,” New Scientist quoted Grellet-Tinner, as saying.

Using scanning electron microscopy and neutron tomography, he analysed the egg and found a fully developed sauropod embryo that had sunk to one side of the egg before fossilisation.

Based on the shape of its skeleton, Grellet-Tinner believes it is a titanosaur belonging to a group called the lithostrotians.

He said that though the egg was just 90 mm in diameter, the baby would have grown to be over 15 m in length if it had hatched successfully.

“We never knew this type of dinosaur was laying extremely small eggs,” he added.

The egg was found in sediment from the Early Cretaceous, which makes this find the oldest lithostrothian titanosaur dinosaur egg discovered. (ANI)

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