Dinosaur Embryo Discovered

Stated simply, dinosaurs are cool. Jurassic Park may have given me nightmares once I was old enough to see it, but they are frighteningly majestic.

Paleontologists discovered fossilized dinosaur embryos in China recently making them the oldest preserved organic remains of a  budding dinosaur to date. The embryos are thought to be sauropodomorphs “because they are similar in many ways to intact embryonic skeletons of Massospondylus, a sauropodomorph that Reisz [paleontologist]  unearthed in South Africa in 2005″  according to Nature.com. The new discoveries will help scientists understand better how these dinosaurs grew to their full adult size.

4-11 dinos

Left: Sauropodomorph in egg. Image via the Huffington Post
Right: Adult sauropodomorph. Image via BBC

Unfortunately, it is confirmed that there is no probability that these embryos could result in dinosaur reincarnation.

To learn more about sauropodomorphs, The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs by Gregory S. Paul has an entire chapter devoted to them.

The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs is a must-have for anyone who loves dinosaurs, from the amateur enthusiast to the professional paleontologist.

  • The first authoritative field guide to dinosaurs
  • Covers more than 735 species
  • Beautiful, large-format volume
  • Lavishly illustrated throughout, with more than 600 color and black-and-white drawings and figures, including:
  • More than 130 color life studies, including scenic views
  • Close to 450 skeletal, skull, head, and muscle drawings
  • 8 color paleo-distribution maps
  • Color timeline
  • Describes anatomy, physiology, locomotion, reproduction, and growth of dinosaurs, as well as the origin of birds and the extinction of nonavian dinosaurs

And, while mosquitoes in fossilized amber can’t bring back dinosaurs, The Amber Forest: A Reconstruction of a Vanished World by George Poinar Jr., & Roberta Poinar brings to life the environment in which the dinosaurs lived.

In Jurassic Park, amber fossils provided the key to bringing dinosaurs back to life. Scientists in the movie extracted dinosaur blood from mosquitoes preserved for millions of years in amber–hardened tree resin–and used the blood’s DNA to revive the creatures that terrified audiences around the globe. In this book, George and Roberta Poinar use amber for a similar act of revival–only they bring back an entire ecosystem. The Poinars are world leaders in the study of amber fossils and have spent years examining the uniquely rich supply that has survived from the ancient forests of the Dominican Republic. They draw on their research here to reconstruct in words, drawings, and spectacular color photographs the ecosystem that existed on the island of Hispaniola between fifteen and forty-five million years ago. The result is the most accurate picture scientists have yet produced of any tropical forest of the past.

The specimens examined by the Poinars reflect amber’s extraordinary qualities as a medium for preservation. Millions of years ago, countless plants, invertebrates, and small vertebrates were trapped in the sticky resin that flowed from the trees of ancient forests and, as that resin hardened into translucent, golden amber, they were preserved in almost perfect condition. Samples analyzed and illustrated here include a wide range of insects and plants–many now extinct–as well as such vertebrates as frogs, lizards, birds, and small mammals. There are even frozen scenes of combat: an assassin bug grappling with a stingless bee, for example, and a spider attacking a termite. By examining these plants and animals and comparing them to related forms that exist today, the authors shed new light on the behavior of these organisms as well as the environment and climate in which they lived and died.

The Poinars present richly detailed drawings of how the forests once appeared. They discuss how and when life colonized Hispaniola and what caused some forms to become extinct. Along the way, they describe how amber is formed, how and where it has been preserved, and how it is mined, sold, and occasionally forged for profit today. The book is a beautifully written and produced homage to a remarkable, vanished world.