Jurassic Park Watch: Little, Super-Cute, Real Baby Dinosaurs

By Amos Zeeberg (Discover Web Editor) | November 12, 2010 4:49 pm

dinobabySister Discover Blog 80beats reports:

Fossilized dinosaur embryos, found still in their eggshells, have claimed the title of the oldest vertebrate embryos ever seen–they were fossilized in the early Jurassic Period, around 190 million years ago, researchers say. The embryos are from the species Massospondylus, a prosauropod, the family of dinosaurs which gave rise to iconic sauropods like the Brachiosaurus.

Of course, just because we found the well-preserved bones of a dinosaur embryo doesn’t mean we can bring the thing back to life with a snap of the fingers (or even with a crack scientific team “sparing no expense”). But remember that most scientists were very skeptical that any viable tissue could be found in dinosaur bones until Mary Schweitzer did just that—and faced a lot of misguided attacks before her results were confirmed.

dino-embryoPerhaps the most interesting thing about the discovery was the fact that these dinosaur babies are in some important ways baby-like: big heads, no teeth, get around on four legs instead of two (as did Massospondylus adults). The researchers suspect that these little ones therefore probably couldn’t survive on their own, and must have depended on their parents—the oldest ever example of parental care. And if that’s the case, it sort of makes sense that they’d appeal to our weakness for things baby-like, even if they’re not of our species.

So if and when we do bring Massospondylus back from the mass grave of extinction, we better be ready to raise the kids well. Any ideas on how to parent a prosauropod?

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Biology, Genetics

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