Did Birds Get Their Colorful, Speckled Eggs From Dinosaurs?
An article in Gizmodo alerted me to a study from last year (unfortunately behind a paywall) that was able to analyze fossil eggs of certain dinosaurs. Researchers found that birds’ close dinosaur relatives had eggs with traces of two pigments—a red-brown one and a blue-green one. This same pair of pigments mixes and matches in today’s bird eggs to produce colors ranging from robin’s egg blue to red to yellow to green. What’s more, the analysis of pigments showed that dinosaur eggs even had spots and speckles.
Researchers - Evidence - Oviraptor - Dinosaurs - Pigment
Researchers previously found evidence that oviraptor dinosaurs had pigment in their eggs just like birds do. They discovered this by slicing off a piece of a dinosaur egg and putting it through a molecule-identifying mass spectrometer machine. For the new study, rather than sampling pieces of the eggs, they used Raman spectroscopy —hitting the samples with a laser and detecting the wavelengths of the light that bounces back. The colors of the scattered light reveal the kinds of molecules present in the eggs. The researchers sampled 19 eggs from the group that includes crocodilians and dinosaurs. Pigment did not occur in the crocodilians or the sauropods, but did in the theropods—long thought to be the dinosaur group that evolved to become birds.
For a long time bird experts assumed that egg color appeared in modern birds’ eggs multiple times, independently. Modern birds use only two pigments — blue-green biliverdin and red-brown protoporphyrin IX — to create all of the various egg colors, spots, and speckles. They found the pigments in eggshells belonging to Eumaniraptoran dinosaurs, which include small, carnivorous dinosaurs such as Velociraptor.
Jurassic - Park - Movies - Velociraptors - This…The
Contrary to “Jurassic Park” movies, Velociraptors probably looked like this…The inference is that egg color evolved along with open nesting habits to protect the eggs...
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