While looking at fossil eggshells in China, researchers found evidence that a species of oviraptor called Heyuannia huangi had eggs that were colored deep blue-green, according to a study released this summer in the journal PeerJ.
Using chemical analyses, the researchers detected traces of two pigments, biliverdin and protoporphyrin, which are found in modern bird eggs. Some researchers assumed that dinosaur eggs had varying colors, but this is the first time the pigment has survived the fossilization process, says Jason Poole, the manager of Dinosaur Hall and the Fossil Preparation Lab at the Academy of Natural Sciences. While many fossil dinosaur eggs are black or brown due to the fossilization process, the eggs of Heyuannia still have a blueish tint to them.
“What’s really nice about it all, is that you have this stuff that you’re looking for, but usually the coolest stuff you find is unexpected,” says Poole.
Colored eggs aren’t the only similarities between dinosaurs and birds. Fossil research shows they shared very similar traits like feathers and wishbones, and behaviors like nest-building and brooding. The Heyuannia itself was an ostrich-like dinosaur with a parrot-beak and feathers. It walked on its hind legs and was around five feet long.
To learn more about oviraptors and their eggs, check out the Academy’s newest exhibit, Tiny Titans: Dinosaur Eggs and Babies. View real oviraptor eggs as well as other authentic dinosaur eggs and nests collected from around the world.
By Liyah Desher