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Scientists uncovered secrets of 200m-year-old dinosaur eggs with X-rays

Scientists were able, using X-rays, to unravel the secrets of 200-million-year-old dinosaur eggs, France Press and BTA reported.
Specialists came across miniature skulls of embryos, the development of which turns out to be very similar to today's reptiles.

These embryos of Massospondylus carinatus, 5 metres long herbivores, which are some of the oldest in the world, were discovered in 1976 in South African Golden Gate Highlands Park. Due to their fragility and small size, so far these findings were very difficult to study. Moreover, there was no non-invasive method for their research.

But in 2015, an international team sent seven eggs, of which three containing embryos, to the European Synchrotron in the French city of Grenoble. They were scanned by the powerful X-rays of the synchrotron by electrons accelerated to the speed of light, in a ring of over 800m in length. Images were obtained with incredible details reaching the bone cells.

The obtained data allowed scientists to build a three-dimensional model of the skull of a baby-dinosaur just a few centimeters long. Specialists compared the results obtained with the closest today relatives of the dinosaurs - crocodiles, turtles, lizards, etc. Similarities were found in their stages of development, and most notably the way the skull grows in the egg.

"I was most surprised by the fact that the embryos turned out to be younger than we thought,” commented one of the study's chief authors Kimberly Schapelle from the University of Johannesburg. “They turned out to be at a 60 percent stage of their development!”

With the new findings, scientists came to the conclusion that the pattern of embryonic development of reptiles has not changed for 200 million years


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