Paleontologists are believed to have discovered a new species of a large bird-like dinosaur in Central China, according to a study published in the Nature Communications journal. They said the species, Beibeilong sinensis, made nests larger than monster truck tyres. The study’s findings were based on the discovery of the bones of an embryo – “Baby Louie” – which died while hatching and 45-cm-long eggs.
Dubbed the “baby dragon from China”, the creature is believed to have roamed the Earth around 90 million years ago. Measuring about eight metres long and weighing up to 3,000 kg, it has been described as an “overgrown cassowary”, a flightless bird that looks like an emu, AFP reported.
The creature is the second-known species of the giant oviraptorosaur, which is a feathered maniraptoran dinosaur. “It has been a big mystery for many years as to which species laid the largest-known dinosaur eggs,” co-author of the study Darla Zelenitsky said, adding that the study’s identification of a baby skeleton proved that the eggs were laid by a giant oviraptorosaurs, “a group of dinosaurs that are very poorly known from fossil bones”.
The remains of “Baby Louie” were among the thousands of dinosaur eggs discovered in cretaceous rocks by farmers in China’s Henan province in the late 1980s. The delay in the identification was caused by the illegal sale of the specimen into the United States, where it was displayed at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum.
Museum officials signed the repatriation agreement only in 2013, after which the specimen was transported to its current home at the Henan Geological Museum.