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The discovery of the Baby Yingliang fossil is a significant development in the field of paleontology, shedding new light on the behavior of theropod dinosaurs, which are believed to be the ancestors of modern birds. The embryo’s tucking posture is similar to that of modern bird embryos just before they hatch, indicating that this posture may have evolved in theropods, and has been a successful strategy for prehatching behavior throughout the evolution of birds.
The exceptional preservation of the Baby Yingliang fossil is also a remarkable achievement, as fossils of this quality are rare and provide scientists with valuable insight into the anatomy and behavior of prehistoric creatures. The embryo’s estimated length of 10.6 inches and the egg’s length of 6.7 inches provide a unique glimpse into the size and proportions of oviraptorosaur eggs, which were not previously well understood.
The research team, led by the University of Birmingham and China University of Geosciences, will continue to study the Baby Yingliang fossil and others like it to gain a better understanding of prehatching behavior in dinosaurs and to confirm their hypothesis that similar behaviors existed in both dinosaurs and modern birds.
Steve Brusatte, a co-author of the study and a paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh, describes the fossil as “one of the most beautiful fossils I have ever seen.” The discovery provides further evidence of the evolutionary link between birds and dinosaurs, as many features of modern birds, such as feathers and flight, are believed to have originated in their dinosaur ancestors.