World's oldest dinosaur embryo

Monday, November 15, 2010

Paleontologists have found the world's oldest dinosaur embryos. The embryos are found in their still well-preserved eggs, date to the early Jurassic Period 190 million years ago. Researchers have said that these are the oldest known embryos for any land-dwelling vertebrate.

These belong to Massospondylus, a member of a group of dinosaurs called prosauropods that were ancestors to the giant, plant-eating sauropods. Sauropods are the iconic four-legged dinosaurs known for their long necks and long tails.

Professor Robert Reisz and his colleagues made this discovery while analyzing the fossilized eggs which were originally found in South Africa. Reisz’s research assistant, Diane Scott, prepared the delicate fossils under high-powered microscopes and compiled the illustrations.

The embryos are so remarkably well preserved that they permitted a complete reconstruction of the skeleton and detailed interpretations of the anatomy.

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