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What About Pregnant Reptiles? Fossilized Dinosaur Makes Researchers Question Dinosaur Reproduction

Mar 02, 2017 09:24 AM EST

Reptiles, such as lizards and snakes, are known to lay eggs. Dinosaurs, also reptiles, are believed to be the same. However, researchers recently discovered a fossil of a pregnant dinosaur, which reveals that some of these reptiles that have once walked the Earth could be reproducing in a different manner.

A research from various teams in China, the U.S., and the U.K. recently discovered a pregnant Dinocephalosaurus fossil. The reptile was carrying its embryo inside of its body, instead of an egg.

The Dinocephalosaurus has a long and slender neck and may look like the stereotypical dinosaur. However, according to Science Alert, if the observations are right, then this is the first from the archosauromorpha group that can give birth the way mammals do.

Mike Benton of the University of Bristol said in their research that the fossil was, in fact, just a chance find.

The embryo was seen facing towards the mother's head, which points towards a baby and not food. Because if it's food, the head should be eaten first. The "baby" was also found in a curled posture that is similar to embryos in vertebrates, and there are no egg shells.

According to  BBC News, the chances of eggs around the body cannot be disqualified, but it's highly unlikely. The pregnant dinosaur fossil is an unprecedented find because it hinges on the re-evaluation of a lot of species under the archosauromorpha group, which includes birds and crocodiles.

The study also found out that the Dinocephalosaurus determined the sex of babies through chromosome-allocation, which is different from the way modern-day turtles and crocodiles do via the temperature of the nest.

The study said that the particular dinosaur could have been giving birth rather than laying eggs to protect their offspring from predators.

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