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Dino Fossil Carried Bird Like Eggs
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A dinosaur who died more than 65 million years ago
with two eggs ready to lay shows that the animals were very bird-like, but
also resembled reptiles such as crocodiles, researchers said on Thursday.
Like birds, the dinosaur probably would not have been able to lay its
entire clutch at once, but like a crocodile, she had two ovaries to make
eggs, they write in Friday's issue of the journal Science.
While the fossil does not answer the ultimate question of whether birds
descended from dinosaurs, it will help answer questions about how birds,
reptiles and dinosaurs are related, the international team of scientists
The fossil, found in China's southern Jiangxi Province, consists of little
more than the animal's pelvis and some vertebrae.
But it clearly belonged to an oviraptorosaurian -- a type of dinosaur
called a theropod, which are believed by many experts to have been the
ancestors of modern birds.
It would have been about 12 feet or 4 meters long.
Animals such as crocodiles lay a full clutch at once. And they have
leathery shells, while the shells of these dinosaur eggs were hard, like a
bird's, said Tamaki Sato of the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa,
Canada, who led the study.
"They are similar to bird eggs, but the shells are too incomplete to be
really sure," she said in a telephone interview.
And the shape of the eggs, pointed at one end, "suggests that the females
came to the centers of the nests to lay neat, multilayered, ring-shaped
clutches," the researchers wrote.
The hillside site where the fossil was found dates to the Upper Cretaceous
period, which lasted from 98 to 65 million years ago. Many different
dinosaurs arose during this period, as well as modern trees such as oaks,
maples and walnuts.