A dinosaur embryo has been unearthed in Ganzhou, China, that scientists describe as one of the most perfectly preserved specimens of its kind ever found.
The embryo, dubbed “Baby Yingliang,” is at least 66 million years old, BBC reported, citing the researchers.
Baby Yingliang, which measures 10.6 inches (27cm) long from head to tail, was discovered inside a 6.7 inch-long fossilized egg.
The egg was first uncovered in 2000, but put into storage at the Yingliang Stone Nature History Museum for 10 years.
The researchers turned their eyes to the fossilized egg when construction work began on the museum and old fossils were sorted through.
According to the scientists, the dinosaur embryo was preparing to hatch from its egg, like a chicken.
The embryo is believed to be a toothless theropod dinosaur, or oviraptorosaur.
Researcher Fion Waisum Ma said it was “the best dinosaur embryo ever found in history.”
The fossil shows the embryo was in a curled position known as “tucking”, which is a behaviour seen in birds shortly before they hatch.
Oviraptorosaurs, which means “egg thief lizards,” were feathered dinosaurs that lived in what is now Asia and North America during the Late Cretaceous period – between 100 million to 66 million years ago.
Paleontologist Steve Brusatte, a member of the research team, said that it was “one of the most stunning dinosaur fossils” he had seen, and that the embryo was on the brink of hatching.