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Fast-growing dinosaurs kicked inside eggs, say scientists

Researchers used new ancient fossil finds to learn about dinosaurs' early development. The evidence suggests dinosaurs wiggled inside their eggs and grew faster than any birds or mammals living today. 

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An artist's impression of an embryonic Lufengosaurus, showing the dinosaur's growing skeleton.

D. Mazierski

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Embryonic dinosaurs kicked and wiggled in the egg, a new discovery of a baby-dino-bone bed suggests.

The bones, all from not-yet-hatched embryonic dinosaurs, are among the oldest dinosaur-embryo fossils ever found. What's more, the embryo fossils came from separate nests and the dino embryos were at different stages of development when they died — two discoveries that will enable researchers to study how dinosaurs developed before hatching.

"It tells us quite a bit about early embryonic stages and changes that occur in the embryonic life of these animals — something we haven't really seen before," said study researcher Robert Reisz, a paleontologist at the University of Toronto.

In addition to discovering evidence of in-egg kicking, the researchers found that the embryos, which probably belonged to the long-necked Lufengosaurus, grew faster than the embryos of any birds or mammals alive today. [See Images of the Tiny Dino Embryos]

Tiny-bone find

Timothy Huang, a chemist at National Chung Hsing University in Taiwan and an amateur archaeologist, discovered the embryonic bones about three years ago in Yunnan Province, China. The bone bed has an area of about 3 square feet (1 square meter) and a thickness of about 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters). In this small patch, the researchers eventually uncovered more than 200 itsy-bitsy bones.

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