First live birth evidence in dinosaur relative

Feb 15, 2017

By Paul Rincon

Scientists have uncovered the first evidence of live births in the group of animals that includes dinosaurs, crocodiles and birds.

All examples of this group, known as the Archosauromorpha, lay eggs.

This led some scientists to wonder whether there was something in their biology that prevented live births.

But examination of the fossil remains of a very long-necked, 245 million-year-old marine reptile from China revealed it was carrying an embryo.

Jun Liu, first author of the new study in Nature Communications, told BBC News that the animal would have measured between three and four metres long, with a neck that was about 1.7m long.

The embryo may have been around half a metre long and is positioned inside the rib cage of the adult Dinocephalosaurus fossil, which was discovered in 2008 in Luoping County, Yunnan Province in southern China.

Researchers had to consider whether the smaller animal might have been part of the adult’s last meal. But it’s facing forward, whereas swallowed prey generally face backwards because predators consume the animal head first to help it go down the throat.

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3 comments on “First live birth evidence in dinosaur relative

  • Live birth is not that hard to pull off. All you need is the eggs to hatch internally. Everything else can remain the same. There are some frogs that do it. Swordtail fish Xiphophorus helleri also do it.



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  • Roedy #1
    Feb 17, 2017 at 3:57 am

    There are some frogs that do it.

    Frogs show a whole range of embryonic development, with eggs hatching in ponds, live tadpole births, live frog births, eggs and young incubated in the male’s mouth, eggs implanted under the skin in the backs of adults etc.

    Swordtail fish Xiphophorus helleri also do it.

    In fish egg-laying, mouth nursing, and live births are observed.

    In sharks, some species have internal development with sibling cannibalism, before the live birth of survivors!



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  • New technologies are giving ever better details of fossil life forms.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-39126987

    ‘Best ever’ view of what a dinosaur really looked like

    A dinosaur that lived 160 million years ago had drumstick-shaped legs much like living birds, according to palaeontologists.

    The feathered dinosaur also had bird-like arms similar to wings.

    Scientists used high-powered lasers to reveal invisible details of what the creature looked like.

    The research could give insights into the origins of flight, which is thought to have evolved more than 150 million years ago.

    Michael Pittman of the University of Hong Kong said the study was a landmark in our understanding of the origins of birds.

    “In this study, what we’ve done is we’ve used high-powered lasers to reveal unseen soft tissues preserved alongside the bones of a feathered dinosaur called Anchiornis,” he said.

    The research team used laser-stimulated fluorescence imaging, a technique that reveals soft tissue details that are unseen under visible light.

    The method involves sweeping laser light across a specimen while taking long-exposure photos with a camera.

    “The laser images show that this non-bird dinosaur had wings that were remarkably similar to those of living birds, down to the soft tissues.”

    Anchiornis is Greek for “almost bird”.

    The dinosaur lived in China during the late Jurassic Period, around the time when the first true birds are thought to have appeared.

    The creature had feathers and seems to have been black with white stripes and displayed a distinctive orange feather crest on the crown of its head.

    It is not clear whether Anchiornis could fly or glide.

    The research is published in the journal Nature Communications.



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