Ceratopsian dinosaur mystery solved
ISLAMABAD – New research suggests that the first dinosaurs laid soft-shelled eggs — a finding that contradicts established thought. The study, led by the American Museum of Natural History and Yale University and published on June 17, 2020, in the journal Nature, applied a suite of sophisticated geochemical methods to analyze the eggs of two vastly different non-avian dinosaurs and found that they resembled those of turtles in their microstructure, composition, and mechanical properties. The research also suggests that hard-shelled eggs evolved at least three times independently in the dinosaur family tree. “The assumption has always been that the ancestral dinosaur egg was hard-shelled,” said lead author Mark Norell, chair and Macaulay Curator in the Museum’s Division of Paleontology. “Over the last 20 years, we’ve found dinosaur eggs around the world. But for the most part, they only represent three groups — theropod dinosaurs, which includes modern birds, advanced hadrosaurs like the duck-bill dinosaurs, and advanced sauropods, the long-necked dinosaurs. At the same time, we’ve found thousands of skeletal remains of ceratopsian dinosaurs, but almost none of their eggs. So why weren’t their eggs preserved? My guess — and what we ended up proving through this study.