Fossil pigments reveal that dinosaurs may have laid colored eggs

Scientists at the University of Bonn have found pigments in fossilized eggs of dinosaurs, which indicates that dinosaurs may have laid colored eggs similar to modern birds. The scientists performed organic geochemical analyses on well preserved, 66 million year old fossil remains of eggshells belonging to the oviraptor Heyuannia huangi and discovered the presence of the pigments protoporphyrin and biliverdin. These pigments are known to be responsible for the blue and green colors in present-day robin and emu eggs, respectively, which suggests that the studied oviraptor eggs may have had blue-green colors as well. It is believed that these oviraptor eggs were laid in partially open ground nests and therefore, their blue-green coloring may have provided a means of camouflage against predators. This study is the first to reconstruct the color of dinosaur eggs and provides a link between the reproductive biology of dinosaurs and the evolutionary traits inherited by modern birds.

Journal reference: Wiemann, J., Yang, T. R., Sander, P. N., Schneider, M., Engeser, M., Kath-Schorr, S., … & Sander, P. M. (2015). The blue-green eggs of dinosaurs: How fossil metabolites provide insights into the evolution of bird reproduction (No. e1323). PeerJ PrePrints.

Image: Reconstruction of Tyrannosaurus rex in Palais de la Découverte, Paris, France. Source: David Monniaux, Wikimedia Commons.