These Dino Eggs are Eggs-traordinary

Dec32018Step aside Easter Bunny, scientists have evidence that dinosaur eggs came pre-decorated!

Although you may use artificial dye to make chicken eggs all sorts of colors for the holidays, many bird eggs naturally come in a wide variety of hues and patterns from the blue of a Robin’s egg to the squiggle of the Great Bowerbird egg. And now scientists think that 150 million years ago, dinosaur eggs had already developed a diversity of pigmentation just like our modern birds. Initially, researchers used chemical analysis to pinpoint two different types of pigment in dino eggs: a blue-green and a red-brown. But chemical analysis required them to grind up the fossils, so they couldn’t study very many eggs. Then, in 2017, they developed a new method of analyzing the fossils called “Raman microspectroscopy,” which uses a laser beam to determine the composition of a fossil egg without harming it. With this method scientists were able to broaden their study and found that dinosaur eggs contained a rainbow of pigments and patterns that had never been discovered before!

When it comes to eggs, color isn’t just about aesthetics. Birds use egg color and pattern as a sort of natural camouflage to protect their young from predators, and to help them distinguish their eggs from others. But in order for this to work, the eggs have to be placed in an open nest above ground, not buried beneath the dirt like many reptile eggs. This suggests that because dinosaur eggs have pigmentation, they were also placed in open nests, and were most likely cared for by the parents before they hatched. This new discovery again changes our perception of dinosaurs from lumbering reptiles to intelligent and highly evolved ancestors of modern birds. It gives us another small window into the beauty that existed on this planet millions of years ago, and I can’t wait to learn more!

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Dec. 3, 2018

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