In a recent paper released in the journal PeerJ, researchers discuss how blue dinosaur eggs further confirm the link between such ancient species and their present-day descendants, birds.
The study targeted a number of fossilized eggs believed to have belonged to the Heyuannia huangi. This is a species of avian-like dinosaurs that once lived in territories now known as China and Mongolia. Though the original color of the eggs can no longer be discerned from just the gray fossils, scientists were able to clean up some of the samples.
Then, the team passed them through a mass spectrometer. This is capable of separating chemicals by mass according to how far they have travel.
Blue Dinosaur Eggs, ANother Confirmation of an Ancient Tie
The egg samples were compared to both standard eggs and emu ones, and as hypothesized, gave results very similar to the latter. Emu eggs, similar to robin ones, are a distinctively dark shade of bluish-green. Some considered that the blue-tin of these dinosaur eggs was an effect of the fossilization process.
Mark Norell, a paleontologist at New York City’s American Museum of Natural History, ties this all in with the history of bird evolution. He explains that this particular trait now seems to have shown up earlier on the family tree than scientists had previously believed.
“Dinosaurs evolved colored eggs before birds evolved—and the reason birds have colored eggs is because they were present in their ancestors, the non-avian dinosaurs,” states Norell.
Another important element in this study is how the blue dinosaur eggs are arranged in the nests. These latter were partially open, quite similar to how large, flightless birds like emus or cassowaries arrange them today.
“According to the sexual signaling hypothesis, the reconstructed blue-green eggs support the origin of previously hypothesized avian paternal care in oviraptorid dinosaurs,” the researchers write.
To put it simply, researchers explain that blue dinosaur eggs, like blue ones from birds, are a major draw to predators. This implies that the father was probably there to guard them when the mother was not around. It is also an important factor in the behavior of birds, which can be noted in modern-day avians as well.