In 2001, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis acquired the specimen and put it on public exhibit for 12 years, until Baby Louie and the eggs were repatriated to China in December 2013. Baby Louie’s new home is at the Henan Geological Museum in its province of origin, and the tiny dinosaur embryo has a new identity, too.
Paleontologists have just determined that Baby Louie represents a new species of gigantic oviraptorosaur, a dinosaur that would have resembled an oversized modern cassowary. Given the scientific name Beibeilong sinensis (“Baby Dragon”), the new species and associated remains are described in the journal Nature Communications.
“Baby Louie may have been an omnivore, eating both meats and plants,” said co-author Darla Zelenitsky, a professor at the University of Calgary. “It would have had a very strong and robust, but toothless, jaw.”
Baby Louie and the rest of its unhatched siblings were deposited by their mother around 90 million years ago into an enormous nest bigger than a monster truck tire, the researchers believe.
The entire nest would have contained two dozen or more eggs positioned at the periphery of a giant ring configuration close to 10 feet in diameter. The eggs are about 18 inches long and weighed around 11 pounds after being laid, making them some of the largest dinosaur eggs ever discovered.
“The giant (parent) dinosaur likely sat in the middle of the nest, perhaps protecting, covering its eggs with its feathered arms and body,” Zelenitsky said. “It would have been a sight to behold with a three-ton animal like this sitting on its nest of eggs.”
Had the embryos hatched, they probably would have weighed close to 9 pounds each and would have been fairly self-sufficient, the scientists suspect. As adults, the dinosaurs likely measured over 26 feet long.
Read more at Discovery News