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Dinosaurs Laid Blue Eggs-and That’s a Big Deal

Pigmented eggs found in Germany

Tzu-Tuei Yang

Pigmented eggs found in Germany

Casey Hansen, Hard News Writer

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Paleontologists from Germany went to a dig site in China to investigate a fossil nest that belonged to a species of oviraptor called Heyuannia Huangi, a feathered species that lived in the Late Cretaceous. When the paleontologists got to the site, they found out that the eggs that had been laid in the nest had faint signs of a blue-green pigmentation. The dig team extracted the nest as fast as they could so they could take it back to Germany and study it.

 

Jasmin Weimann, one of the head scientists studying the fossilized nest, said,“Once the idea that colored eggs evolved in birds and were a trait of modern birds had been suggested, no one thought about it again or dared to ask if dinosaur eggs had been colored.”

 

The eggs were also stacked in pairs of 2, just like other modern day birds. “This is very important because it shows that dinosaurs are closer to birds than we ever could have believed possible,” Weimann states.

 

When dinosaurs die, the flesh and skin decays, the bones sink into the ground, sediments get in the bone and the bones tun to rock. Therefore, when scientists first found the eggs they thought nothing of it because the fossils could have had contact with colored sediment and minerals causing the bones to turn color.

 

“I was originally taught that all the weird colors you can get in fossils, like the blueish-green hue, may be due to mineral precipitation,” Wiemann says.

 

Using chemical analyses, the dig team was able to trace two pigments, biliverdin and protoporphyrin, commonly found in modern bird eggs.

 

Millions of years ago, the eggs would likely have been a greener color, Wiemann says, perhaps similar to eggs laid by Australia’s ground-nesting emus and cassowaries today, which blend in well with the surrounding vegetation. This shows that the dinosaurs, like modern birds, do this for protection over their eggs.

 

The dinosaur that laid these eggs was called Heyuannia Huangi, a oviraptor, a parrot-beaked, feathered species that walked on two hind legs. It would be about 5 feet long. The Heyuannia was a theropod, which means it would be related to tyrannosaurus rex which is one of the most common known examples of dinosaurs having feathers and other bird like features.

             
These colored eggs open a whole new door into our knowledge and understanding of dinosaurs. These eggs show dinosaurs are remarkably close to birds in ways we never thought possible. We now know dinosaurs cared for their young just like common day birds. Overall, dinosaurs and birds are like cousins.

 

Resources:

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/09/dinosaurs-eggs-blue-fossils-china-paleontology-science/

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Dinosaurs Laid Blue Eggs-and That’s a Big Deal