About 90 million years ago, a gigantic bird-like dinosaur with a toothless beak and a crest atop its head laid a clutch of enormous eggs. At least one of these eggs never hatched, but rather became the first and only one of its species on record to fossilize, according to a new study.

The discovery of the 15-inch-long (38 centimeters) embryo is remarkable, said study co-researcher Darla Zelenitsky, an assistant professor of paleontology at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada.

“This is the first embryo known for a giant oviraptorosaur, dinosaurs that are exceedingly rare,” Zelenitsky told Live Science in an email.

Moreover, it’s only the second species of giant oviraptorosaur on record, Zelenitsky said. The other known giant oviraptorosaur is dubbed Gigantoraptor, a beast that stood as tall as 16 feet (5 meters).

B. sinensis lived about 90 million years ago, during the Cretaceous period. The adults of this species were enormous, measuring up to 26 feet (8 meters) long from the snout to the end of the tail, and weighing up to 6,600 lbs. (3,000 kilograms) when fully grown at age 11.
Credit: Zhao Chuang

After the fossilized embryo’s discovery, it took 25 years for the previously unidentified Cretaceous-age specimen to receive an official scientific name.

A Chinese farmer in Henan Province found the oviraptorosaur embryo in 1992, and a year later it was exported to the United States by The Stone Co., a Colorado firm that sells fossils and rocks. Word spread when the company uncovered the eggs and embryo, and National Geographic featured it on a magazine cover in 1996.

The National Geographic photographer, Louis Psihoyos, captured so much detail in his shots that people began calling the dinosaur “Baby Louie,” even after it went on display at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.

However, because of Baby Louie’s significance (an embryo representing a new species of rare dinosaur), researchers decided to wait until it was repatriated to China in 2013 to study it, Zelenitsky said.

After the examination at the Henan Geological Museum, a group of researchers from China, Canada and Slovakia gave Baby Louie the formal scientific name of Beibeilong sinensis, which means “baby dragon from China,” in a combination of Mandarin and Latin.

Read more at: http://www.livescience.com/59027-fossilized-dinosaur-embryo-new-oviraptorosaur-species.html

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