Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fossil egg links dinosaurs to modern birds

Date:
July 12, 2012
Source:
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Summary:
Researchers have discovered a series of dinosaur eggs with a unique characteristic: they are oval in shape. The discovery supports the theory that birds and non-avian theropods, dinosaurs from the Cretaceous Period, could have a common ancestor.

Researchers have discovered a series of dinosaur eggs with a unique characteristic: they are oval in shape. The discovery supports the theory that birds and non-avian theropods, dinosaurs from the Cretaceous Period, could have a common ancestor.
Credit: Image courtesy of Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Researchers have discovered a series of dinosaur eggs with a unique characteristic: they are oval in shape. The discovery supports the theory that birds and non-avian theropods, dinosaurs from the Cretaceous Period, could have a common ancestor.

Before her death in December 2010, Nieves López Martínez, palaeontologist of the Complutense University of Madrid, was working on the research of dinosaur eggs with a very peculiar characteristic: an ovoid, asymmetrical shape. Together with Enric Vicens, palaeontologist of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, the two scientists conducted an exhaustive analysis of their discovery, recently published in the journal Palaeontology.

The new type of dinosaur egg has been given the scientific name of Sankofa pyrenaica. The eggs were discovered in the Montsec area of Lleida, in two sites located on either side of the Terradets pass in Spain.

The South Pyrenean area is rich in dinosaur egg sites, most of which correspond to sauropod eggs from the upper Cretaceous, dating back more than 70 million years ago. During that period, the area was a coastal area full of beaches and deltas which won land from the sea through sediment accumulation. Sand and mud from that period gave way, millions of years later, to the sandstone and marl where dinosaur remains now can be found. On the beach ridges and flat coastal lands is where a large group of dinosaurs laid their eggs.

The sites where the discoveries were made correspond to the upper Cretaceous, between the Campanian and Maastrichtian periods, some 70 to 83 million years ago. The fossils found belong to small eggs measuring some 7 centimeters tall and 4 cm wide, while the eggshell was on average 0.27mm thick. Most of the eggs found were broken in small fragments, but scientists also discovered more or less complete eggs, which can be easily studied in sections. The eggs found at the sites all belong to the same species. The main difference when compared to other eggs from the same period is their asymmetrical shape, similar to that of chicken eggs. The more complete samples clearly show an oval form rarely seen in eggs from the upper Cretaceous period and similar to modern day eggs.

Their shape is a unique characteristic of theropod eggs from the upper Cretaceous period and suggests a connection with bird eggs. Non avian dinosaur eggs are symmetrical and elongated. Asymmetry in bird eggs is associated to the physiology of birds: they take on this shape given the existence of only one oviduct which can form only one egg at a time. In this case the isthmus, the region in the oviduct creating the eggshell membrane, is what gives the egg its asymmetrical shape. Thanks to this shape, the wider end contains a bag of air which allows the bird to breathe in the last stages of its development. This evolutionary step was still relatively underdeveloped in dinosaurs.

Thus, the egg discovered by UCM and UAB researchers may represent the missing link between dinosaurs and birds. Only one other egg, discovered in Argentina and corresponding to a primitive bird from the same period, has similar characteristics. The discover supports the theory that non avian theropods, the dinosaurs of the Cretaceous period, and birds could have had a common ancestor.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Nieves López-Martínez, Enric Vicens. A new peculiar dinosaur egg, Sankofa pyrenaica oogen. nov. oosp. nov. from the Upper Cretaceous coastal deposits of the Aren Formation, south-central Pyrenees, Lleida, Catalonia, Spain. Palaeontology, 2012; 55 (2): 325 DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4983.2011.01114.x

Cite This Page:

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. "Fossil egg links dinosaurs to modern birds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120712092443.htm>.
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. (2012, July 12). Fossil egg links dinosaurs to modern birds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120712092443.htm
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. "Fossil egg links dinosaurs to modern birds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120712092443.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Fossils & Ruins News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Did Neanderthals Play Tic-Tac-Toe?

Did Neanderthals Play Tic-Tac-Toe?

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — Artwork found in a Gibraltar cave that was possibly done by Neanderthals suggests they may have been smarter than we all thought. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Millions Of Historical Public Domain Photos Added To Flickr

Millions Of Historical Public Domain Photos Added To Flickr

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) — Historian Kalev Leetaru uploaded a large collection of historical photos, images that were previously difficult to collect. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) — Canadian scientists looking into the very first land animals took a fish out of water and forced it to walk. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Ancient Wine Cellar Found In Israel

Huge Ancient Wine Cellar Found In Israel

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) — An international team uncovered a large ancient wine celler that likely belonged to a Cannonite ruler. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins