What’s in your Easter Egg? A… dinosaur?!
Every kid knows how Easter eggs wind up in their yard. According to the canonical weirdness that is the holiday tradition, the Easter bunny delivers the colorful eggs overnight. But the origin of the eggs themselves is hardly ever mentioned. According to a well-timed press release from the University of Leicester, non-avian dinosaurs are the best candidates for some of the candy eggs hidden away on lawns.
There is some real science behind the silliness. In the latest issue of Palaeontology, researchers Nieves López-Martínez and Enric Vicens described a new type of dinosaur egg discovered in the Cretaceous strata of northeastern Spain. The roughly 70-million-year-old eggs, given the name Sankofa pyrenaica to distinguish them from other egg forms previously found, exhibited a strange combination of features.
The profile of the newly described egg type is most similar to that of archaic birds. But, according to López-Martínez and Vicens, the microscopic structure of the Sankofa eggs shares more in common with those laid by non-avian dinosaurs such as Troodon than with birds. The Sankofa eggs exhibit a mix of characteristics seen in both non-avian dinosaurs and archaic birds. Without fossils of the chicks developing inside the eggs, or even associated bones of adult animals, exactly what sort of creature laid this egg is ambiguous.
Well, guys, if you find a baby theropod running around your living room the morning you wake up to open your easter basket, let me know, because I’ll gladly take it off your hands!