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  Fossil eggshell cuticle elucidates dinosaur nesting ecology

Yang, T.-R., Chen, Y.-H., Wiemann, J., Spiering, B., & Sander, P. M. (2018). Fossil eggshell cuticle elucidates dinosaur nesting ecology. PeerJ, 2018(7): e5144. doi:10.7717/peerj.5144.

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Item Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-E839-A Version Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-E83A-9
Genre: Journal Article


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Yang, Tzu-Ruei1, Author              
Chen, Ying-Hsuan2, Author              
Wiemann, Jasmina3, Author              
Spiering, Beate4, Author              
Sander, Paul Martin1, 5, Author              
1Bereich Paläontologie, Steinmann-Institut für Geologie, Mineralogie und Paläontologie, Universität Bonn, Bonn, Germany, persistent22              
2Interface Spectroscopy, Interface Chemistry and Surface Engineering, Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung GmbH, Max Planck Society, ou_1863358              
3Department of Geology and Geophysics, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA, persistent22              
4Bereich Mineralogie, Steinmann-Institut für Geologie, Mineralogie und Paläontologie, Universität Bonn, Bonn, Germany, persistent22              
5Dinosaur Institute, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA, USA, persistent22              


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 Abstract: The cuticle layer consisting mainly of lipids and hydroxyapatite (HAp) atop the mineralized avian eggshell is a protective structure that prevents the egg from dehydration and microbial invasions. Previous ornithological studies have revealed that the cuticle layer is also involved in modulating the reflectance of eggshells in addition to pigments (protoporphyrin and biliverdin). Thus, the cuticle layer represents a crucial trait that delivers ecological signals. While present in most modern birds, direct evidence for cuticle preservation in stem birds and non-avian dinosaurs is yet missing. Here we present the first direct and chemical evidence for the preservation of the cuticle layer on dinosaur eggshells. We analyze several theropod eggshells from various localities, including oviraptorid Macroolithus yaotunensis eggshells from the Late Cretaceous deposits of Henan, Jiangxi, and Guangdong in China and alvarezsaurid Triprismatoolithus eggshell from the Two Medicine Formation of Montana, United States, with the scanning electron microscope (SEM), electron probe micro-analysis (EPMA), and Raman spectroscopy (RS). The elemental analysis with EPMA shows high concentration of phosphorus at the boundary between the eggshell and sediment, representing the hydroxyapatitic cuticle layer (HAp). Depletion of phosphorus in sediment excludes the allochthonous origin of the phosphorus in these eggshells. The chemometric analysis of Raman spectra collected from fossil and extant eggs provides further supportive evidence for the cuticle preservation in oviraptorid and probable alvarezsaurid eggshells. In accordance with our previous discovery of pigments preserved in Cretaceous oviraptorid dinosaur eggshells, we validate the cuticle preservation on dinosaur eggshells through deep time and offer a yet unexplored resource for chemical studies targeting the evolution of dinosaur nesting ecology. Our study also suggests that the cuticle structure can be traced far back to maniraptoran dinosaurs and enhance their reproductive success in a warm and mesic habitat such as Montana and southern China during the Late Cretaceous. © 2018 Yang et al.


Language(s): eng - English
 Dates: 2018
 Publication Status: Published in print
 Pages: -
 Publishing info: -
 Table of Contents: -
 Rev. Type: Peer
 Identifiers: DOI: 10.7717/peerj.5144
BibTex Citekey: Yang2018
 Degree: -



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Title: PeerJ
Source Genre: Journal
Publ. Info: San Francisco, USA : PeerJ Inc.
Pages: - Volume / Issue: 2018 (7) Sequence Number: e5144 Start / End Page: - Identifier: ISSN: 2167-8359
CoNE: https://pure.mpg.de/cone/journals/resource/2167-8359