Naturwissenschaften

, Volume 95, Issue 6, pp 493–500

Digital preparation of a probable neoceratopsian preserved within an egg, with comments on microstructural anatomy of ornithischian eggshells

  • Amy M. Balanoff
  • Mark A. Norell
  • Gerald Grellet-Tinner
  • Matthew R. Lewin
Original Paper

Abstract

We describe the first known embryo of a neoceratopsian dinosaur, perhaps the most ubiquitous Laurasian group of Cretaceous dinosaurs, which is preserved completely enclosed within an egg. This specimen was collected from Late Cretaceous beds of southern Mongolia, which commonly preserve fossils of the neoceratopsian, Yamaceratops dorngobiensis. The small egg was scanned using high-resolution X-ray computed tomography and digitally prepared from the matrix. The preserved and imaged elements support a diagnosis of the embryo to Neoceratopsia and allow preliminary observations of ontogenetic transformations within this group. The addition of an embryo also adds another important data point to the already impressive postnatal ontogenetic series that are available for this clade.

Keywords

Ornithischia Computed tomography Eggshell microstructure Embryo 

Supplementary material

114_2008_347_MOESM1_ESM.mov (3 mb)
S1Spinning animation of the three-dimensional reconstruction of the skeletal elements contained within the egg. The matrix and eggshell have been rendered transparent (MOV 3.1 MB).

References

  1. Balanoff AM, Rowe T (2007) Osteological description of an embryonic skeleton of the extinct elephant bird, Aepyornis (Palaeognathae: Ratitae). Soc Vert Paleontol Memoir 9, J Vert Paleontol 27(suppl. to 4):1–53Google Scholar
  2. Bohlin B (1953) Fossil reptiles from Mongolia and Kansu. The Sino-Swedish Expedition, Publication no. 37, pp 1–105Google Scholar
  3. Brown B, Schlaikjer EM (1940) The structure and relationships of Protoceratops. Ann NY Acad Sci 40:133–266Google Scholar
  4. Buffetaut E, Grellet-Tinner G, Suteethorn V, Cuny G, Tong H, Košir A, Cavin L, Chitsing S, Griffiths PJ, Tabouelle J, Le Loeuff J (2005) Minute theropod eggs and embryo from the Lower Cretaceous of Thailand and the dinosaur-bird transition. Naturwissenschaften 92:477–482PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Carpenter K, Alf K (1994) Global distribution of dinosaur eggs, nests, and babies. In: Carpenter K, Hirsch KF, Horner JR (eds) Dinosaur eggs and babies. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 15–30Google Scholar
  6. Chinnery B (2004) Morphometric analysis of evolutionary trends in the ceratopsian postcranial skeleton. J Vert Paleontol 24:591–609CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dodson P, Forster CA, Sampson SD (2004) Ceratopsidae. In: Weishampel DB, Dodson P, Osmólska H (eds) The Dinosauria. University of California Press, Berkeley, pp 494–513Google Scholar
  8. Dong Z-M, Currie PJ (1993) Protoceratopsian embryos from Inner Mongolia, People’s Republic of China. Can J Earth Sci 30:2248–2254CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Emerson SB, Bramble DM (1993) Scaling, allometry, and skull design. In: Hanken J, Hall BK (eds) The skull, volume 3: functional and evolutionary mechanisms. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 384–416Google Scholar
  10. Erickson GM, Tumanova TA (2000) Growth curve of Psittacosaurus mongoliensis Osborn (Ceratopsia: Psittacosauridae) inferred from long bone histology. Zool J Linn Soc–Lond 130:551–566CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Faccio G (1994) Dinosaurian eggs from the upper Cretaceous of Uruguay. In: Carpenter K, Hirsch KF, Horner JR (eds) Dinosaur eggs and babies. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 47–55Google Scholar
  12. Gauthier J, Kluge AG, Rowe T (1988) Amniote phylogeny and the importance of fossils. Cladistics 4:105–209Google Scholar
  13. Goodwin MB, Clemens WA, Horner JR, Padian K (2006) The smallest known Triceratops skull: new observations on ceratopsid cranial anatomy and ontogeny. J Vert Paleontol 26:103–112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Grellet-Tinner G (2005) The membrana testacea of titanosaurid dinosaur eggs from Auca Mahuevo (Argentina): implications for the exceptional preservation of soft tissue in Lagerstätten. J Vert Paleontol 25:99–106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Grellet-Tinner G (2006) Phylogenetic interpretation of eggs and eggshells: implications for oology and Paleognathae phylogeny. Alcheringa 30:130–180CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Grellet-Tinner G, Makovicky PJ (2006) A possible egg of the theropod Deinonychus antirropus: phylogenetic and biological implications. Can J Earth Sci 43:705–719CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Grellet-Tinner G, Chiappe L, Bottjer D, Norell M (2006) Paleobiology of dinosaur eggs and nesting behaviors. Palaeogeogr Palaeocl Palaeoecol 232:294–321CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Horner JR, Currie PJ (1994) Embryonic and neonatal morphology and ontogeny of a new species of Hypacrosaurus (Ornithischia, Lambeosauridae) from Montana and Alberta. In: Carpenter K, Hirsch KF, Horner JR (eds) Dinosaur eggs and babies. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 312–336Google Scholar
  19. Horner JR, Goodwin MB (2006) Major cranial changes during Triceratops ontogeny. Proc R Soc B 273:2757–2761PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Horner JR, de Ricqlés A, Padian K (2000) Long bone histology of the hadrosaurid dinosaur Maiasaura peeblesorum: growth dynamics and physiology based on an ontogenetic series of skeletal elements. J Vert Paleontol 20:115–129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Makovicky PJ (2002) Taxonomic revision and phylogenetic relationships of basal neoceratopsia (Dinosauria: Ornithischia). Ph.D. dissertation, Columbia University, p 279Google Scholar
  22. Makovicky PJ, Gao KQ, Zhou CF, Erickson G (2006) Ontogenetic changes in Psittacosaurus: implications for taxonomy and phylogeny. J Vert Paleontol 96(suppl. to 3):94AGoogle Scholar
  23. Makovicky PJ, Norell MA (2006) Yamaceratops dorngobienses, a new primitive ceratopsian (Dinosauria: Ornithischia) from the Cretaceous of Mongolia. Am Mus Novit 3530:1–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Maryańska T, Osmólska H (1975) Protoceratopsidae (Dinosauria) of Asia. Palaeontol Pol 33:133–181Google Scholar
  25. Mikhailov KE (1995) Systematic, faunistic and stratigraphic diversity of Cretaceous eggs in Mongolia: comparison with China. In: Sun A, Wang, Y (eds) Sixth Symposium on Mesozoic Terrestrial Ecosystems and Biota, Short Papers. China Ocean Press, Beijing, pp 165–168Google Scholar
  26. Mikhailov KE (1997) Fossil and recent eggshell in amniotic vertebrates: fine structure, comparative morphology and classification. Spec Pap Palaeontol 56:1–80Google Scholar
  27. Mikhailov KE, Sabath K, Kurzanov S (1994) Eggs and nests from the Cretaceous of Mongolia. In: Carpenter K, Hirsch KF, Horner JR (eds) Dinosaur eggs and babies. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 98–102Google Scholar
  28. Norell MA, Clark JM, Chiappe LM, Dashzeveg DY (1995) A nesting dinosaur. Nature 378:774–776CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Norell MA, Clark JM, Chiappe LM (2001) An embryonic oviraptorid (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from the Upper Cretaceous of Mongolia. Am Mus Novit 3315:1–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Norman DB, Witmer LM, Weishampel DB (2004) Basal Ornithischia. In: Weishampel DB, Dodson P, Osmólska H (eds) The Dinosauria. University of California Press, Berkeley, pp 325–334Google Scholar
  31. Reisz RR, Scott D, Sues H-D, Evans DC, Raath MA (2005) Embryos of an Early Jurassic prosauropod dinosaur and their evolutionary significance. Science 309:761–764PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Ricklefs RE, Starck JM (1998) Embryonic growth and development. In: Starck JM, Ricklefs, RE (eds) Avian growth and development: evolution within the Altricial–Precocial Spectrum. Oxford University Press, New York, pp 31–58Google Scholar
  33. Russell ES (1916, 1982 reprint) Form and function: a contribution to the history of animal morphology. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  34. Salgado L, Coria RA, Chiappe L (2005) Osteology of the sauropod embryos from the Upper Cretaceous of Patagonia. Acta Palaeontol Pol 50:79–92Google Scholar
  35. Sato T, Cheng YN, Wu X-C, Zelenitsky DK, Hsiao YF (2005) A pair of shelled eggs inside a female dinosaur. Science 308:375–376PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Schweitzer MH, Jackson F, Chiappe L, Schmitt JG, Calvo JO, Rubilar DE (2002) Late Cretaceous avian eggs with embryos from Argentina. J Vert Paleontol 22:191–195CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Sereno PC (1986) Phylogeny of the bird-hipped dinosaurs (Order Ornithischia). Natl Geogr Res 2:234–256Google Scholar
  38. Starck JM, Ricklefs RE (1998) Patterns of development: the altricial-precocial spectrum. In: Starck JM, Ricklefs RE (eds) Avian growth and development: evolution within the Altricial–Precocial Spectrum. Oxford University Press, New York, pp 3–30Google Scholar
  39. Varricchio DJ, Horner JR, Jackson FD (2002) Embryos and eggs for the Cretaceous theropod dinosaur Troodon Formosus. J Vert Paleontol 22:564–576CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Xu X, Makovicky PJ, Wang X, Norell MA, You H (2002) A ceratopsian dinosaur from China and the early evolution of Ceratopsia. Nature 416:314–317PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. You H, Dodson P (2004) Basal Ceratopsia. In: Weishampel DB, Dodson P, Osmólska H (eds) The Dinosauria. University of California Press, Berkeley, pp 478–493Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amy M. Balanoff
    • 1
  • Mark A. Norell
    • 1
  • Gerald Grellet-Tinner
    • 2
  • Matthew R. Lewin
    • 3
  1. 1.Division of PaleontologyAmerican Museum of Natural HistoryNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Geology and Geological EngineeringSouth Dakota School of MinesRapid CityUSA
  3. 3.Department of Emergency MedicineUniversity of California, San Francisco School of MedicineSan FranciscoUSA

Personalised recommendations