A study on fossilized dinosaur embryos conducted by a team that includes several Taiwanese experts has been chosen as the cover story of an international scientific journal.
The team’s study of numerous skeletal elements and eggshells from a site in China’s Yunnan Province, which sheds light on how dinosaur bones grew, made the cover of the April 11 edition of the weekly journal, Nature.
Timothy Huang (黃大一), a visiting professor at National Chung Hsin University, first discovered a 195-million-year-old embryonic bone in Yunnan in 2003 and later worked with University of Toronto Mississauga paleontologist Robert Reisz, who led a team to conduct further research in the area.
The embryos are likely to be those of a plant-eating dinosaur called Lufengosaurus, a dinosaur genus discovered in Yunnan, the team said at a press conference in Taipei yesterday.
More than 200 bones were excavated at the site, indicating that the dinosaur embryos grew quickly and had relatively short incubation periods, the team said. The rapid growth of bones, including the femoral shaft, in the embryos, also showed muscle activation in dinosaur eggs, similar to that in birds.
Reisz said this was the first time the world could see the development of dinosaur embryos at different stages of maturity, which will be helpful in improving the understanding of the reptile’s development.
In addition, the discovery offers the oldest evidence of organic remains preserved in a terrestrial vertebrate, the team said.
Besides Huang, a chemist-turned-archaeologist, National Central University professor Chang Rong-seng (張榮森), National Synchrotron Radiation Research Center’s Chiang Cheng-cheng (江正誠), National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) Institute of Oral Medicine chairman Shieh Dar-bin (謝達斌) and NCKU researcher Peng Shin-rung (彭信榮) are all listed as authors of the study along with researchers from Australia, Germany and China.