A team of researchers from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in China has identified a previously unknown dinosaur species, naming it Qianlong shouhu. The fossils, believed to be from around 190 million years ago during the Jurassic period, were found in southwest China’s Guizhou Province alongside approximately 50 fossilized eggs of the same species.
Qianlong shouhu belongs to the sauropodomorph group, which includes sauropods and their ancestors. The medium-sized dinosaur measured roughly 20 feet in length and is estimated to have weighed around one ton. Characterized by long necks, tails, small heads, and thick legs, sauropodomorphs walked on four legs.
The researchers’ analysis of the fossilized eggs revealed their elliptical shape and relatively small size. The eggshells, they noted, may have had a leathery texture, challenging existing ideas about the nature of the earliest dinosaur eggs. The findings provide “strong evidence” for the earliest known “leathery” eggs and suggest that the first dinosaur eggs may have been semi-rigid rather than entirely soft or rigid.
Han Fenglu, the first author of the study and a professor at the China University of Geosciences, stated that the eggs’ semi-rigid shell surface indicates a leathery texture after being laid. This discovery is considered a crucial contribution to understanding the earliest known fossil record of adult dinosaurs and their associated egg nests. It provides valuable insights into the behavioral patterns and reproductive strategies of early dinosaurs.
The research, published in the journal Natural Science Review, enhances our understanding of the diverse dinosaur species that once roamed the Earth and contributes to the evolving narrative of prehistoric life.