Thank the dinosaurs for this colorful bird trait


The team found that the diversity of color and patterns on the eggs of some dinosaurs species matches up surprisingly well with that of modern birds. Two, some parent birds use spot patterns to recognize their own eggs if they live in large colonies (or to prevent freeloading birds, like cuckoos, from sneaking their eggs into a brood). "As with many other characteristics, this is an attribute that evolved deep within the dinosaur tree and long before the spectacular radiation of modern birds". They found them in eggshells belonging to Eumaniraptoran dinosaurs, which include small, carnivorous dinosaurs such as Velociraptor.

"Some were uniformly colored", said paleontologist and study co-author Mark Norell of the American Museum of Natural History in NY.

Picture a bird egg: Perhaps it's the cocoa brown of a free-range chicken. Not only that, the researchers could see that some eumaniraptoran eggs were spotted and speckled.

Not only were dinosaurs the masters of the land and the sea, but they were also the masters of color, a new study shows. Instead of using the chemical analysis they developed for the 2017 study, which required grinding up fossil specimens, they turned to an innovative technique for studying fossils: something called Raman microspectroscopy.

This is also what Wiemann hopes to research next-which theropods had colored eggs and which didn't, and how bird nests correspond to egg color. If it's a quail egg, it has inky speckles. This still leaves us with a very straightforward question: why did colored eggs emerge in the first place?

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Different nesting environments, as well as nesting behaviors, are thought to influence egg color. However, they needed to find a new method that wouldn't jeopardize the fossils. "Our study fundamentally changes our understanding of egg colour evolution, and adds colour to dinosaur nests in the real "Jurassic World".

The evolutionary link between dinosaurs and birds has been recognized for centuries but ornithologists long believed that birds evolved their colored eggs several times over history, mimicking local hues to help their eggs blend in.

Hauber offered three other reasons, in addition to camouflage, why birds have colorful eggs: One, pigments can act like a parasol or sunscreen, protecting the embryos within from too much heat.

For example, the sickle-clawed predator Deinonychus had a blue egg with brown blotches and the bird-like Oviraptor, known for its toothless beak, had eggs that were dark blue. She says that assumption was based on the fact that birds' closest living relative, the crocodiles, "have completely uncolored, unpigmented eggs".

Egg colour provided a massive advantage to dinosaurs that had exposed nests for their eggs, rather than burying them into the ground similar to that of turtles and alligators, with a view of providing camouflage to protect against egg-eating predators, the researchers said. Given the analytical methods from other scientific disciplines now available for work on fossils, "It's an incredible time to be a paleontologist", she says.