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中国恐龙孤儿终于找到了父母

更新时间:2017-5-11 11:24:32 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Baby Louie, the Dinosaur Orphan, Finds Its Species at Last
中国恐龙孤儿终于找到了父母

Ever since it was discovered curled up in a nest of supersized dinosaur eggs in the early 1990s, Baby Louie has been an orphan.

自从90年代初被发现蜷缩在一窝超大的恐龙蛋中后,路易贝贝(Baby Louie)一直是个孤儿。

A 90-million-year-old fossilized dinosaur embryo, it was found among a clutch of eggs in Henan Province, in central China. Each of the squash-shaped eggs measured about 18 inches long and 6 inches wide, making them among the largest dinosaur eggs ever uncovered. But remains of their parents were nowhere to be found.

它是一个有9000万年历史的恐龙胚胎化石,是在中国中部河南省发现的;发现时,它的周围是一些恐龙蛋。它们形状像西葫芦,大约18英寸(约合46厘米)长,6英寸(约合15厘米)宽,属于目前发现的最大的恐龙蛋。但它们爸爸妈妈的遗骸无处可寻。

“There were all sorts of speculation on what laid the eggs; was it the tyrannosaur?” said Darla Zelenitsky, a paleontologist at the University of Calgary in Alberta.

“关于下出这些蛋的恐龙,有各种各样的猜测,是暴龙吗?”位于艾伯塔省的卡尔加里大学(University of Calgary)古生物学者达拉·泽莱尼茨基(Darla Zelenitsky)说。

But now, after nearly 25 years, Dr. Zelenitsky and her colleagues have linked the orphaned dinosaurs with their prehistoric lineage. Baby Louie and its kin belong to a group of large, birdlike dinosaurs known as giant oviraptorosaurs. They resembled cassowaries and ostriches but were about as heavy as a rhino and as tall as an elephant. Baby Louie is the first discovered member of a new species of giant oviraptorosaur called Beibeilong sinensis, which roughly means “Chinese baby dragon.”

但现在,差不多25年之后,泽莱尼茨基博士和同事将这些恐龙孤儿及其史前谱系联系了起来。路易贝贝及其同胞属于体形很大、外形像鸟的巨型窃蛋龙类。它们类似食火鸡或鸵鸟,但像犀牛一样重,像大象一样高。路易贝贝属于巨型窃蛋龙类的新物种中华贝贝龙( Beibeilong sinensis),是该物种发现的首个化石。

“We finally know the parentage of the largest known dinosaur eggs,” Dr. Zelenitsky said. The findings were published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications.

“我们终于知道最大的已知恐龙蛋是谁下的了。”泽莱尼茨基博士说。研究结果周二刊登在了《自然·通讯》(Nature Communications)杂志上。

These kinds of large dinosaur eggs are known as Macroelongatoolithus eggs, and have also been found in North America. They are typically arranged in a large ring with up to about 30 eggs in a nest. But only the clutch with Baby Louie offered a skeleton that was closely associated with the eggs. It provided the best clues for figuring out what creatures could produce such massive eggs.

这种大型恐龙蛋被称为巨型长形蛋(Macroelongatoolithus),在北美也有发现。它们通常被排成一个巨大的环形,巢中最多可以有约30枚蛋。但只有路易贝贝这窝蛋拥有和巨型长形蛋密切相关的骨架。对于确定什么生物可以产生下这样大的蛋,它提供了非常重要的线索。

Entombed in a large block of rocks, Baby Louie was collected sometime between December 1992 and early 1993 in China. Charlie Magovern, a fossil dealer, came into possession of the rocks and unexpectedly discovered the fossilized fetus bones. In 1996, Baby Louie was featured on the cover of National Geographic, and was named after the photographer for the feature article, Louie Psihoyos.

路易贝贝是1992年12月至1993年初在中国发现的,它包在一大块岩石中。化石商查理·马可恩(Charlie Magovern)是这块石头的主人,他意外地发现了化石中的骨骼。1996年,路易贝贝登上了《国家地理》杂志封面,并以该文的摄影师路易·西霍尤斯(Louie Psihoyos)命名。

Baby Louie remained with the fossil dealers until 2001, when they sold it to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. The museum put the fossil on display for about 12 years. During this time an exciting discovery occurred in China: The first giant oviraptorosaur fossil was unearthed in 2007.

路易贝贝一直在化石商手中,直到2001年他们把它卖给了印第安纳波利斯儿童博物馆(Indianapolis Children’s Museum)。化石在博物馆里展示了大约12年。在此期间,中国获得了一个令人兴奋的发现:2007年,第一个巨型窃蛋龙化石出土了。

Paleontologists had previously known of oviraptors, and they were aware that Baby Louie resembled one. But until that time, all of the oviraptors that had ever been found were much too small to have laid the giant eggs. But with the newly discovered one-ton oviraptorosaur, the idea that the massive eggs came from a giant oviraptorosaur seemed plausible.

古生物学家以前就知道窃蛋龙,他们也知道路易贝贝和窃蛋龙很相似。但到那时为止,已经发现的所有的窃蛋龙都太小了,无法产下这么巨大的蛋。但是,新发现的窃蛋龙重达一吨,所以这种巨型蛋来自窃蛋龙的想法就变得可信起来。

“Finally here it is — there are giant oviraptorosaurs that could have laid these eggs,” Dr. Zelenitsky said.

“终于,找到了可能生下这些蛋的巨型窃蛋龙,”泽莱尼茨基博士说。

Still, even with the discovery of giant oviraptorosaurs, it took another decade before the researchers could publish the connection. Concerned about the legal status of the fossil, Dr. Zelenitsky and her colleagues wanted to wait until Baby Louie was repatriated to China. In 2013, the fossilized embryo was finally returned and put on display in the Henan Geological Museum in Zhengzhou. Then in 2015, some of Dr. Zelenitsky’s colleagues returned to the site in China where Baby Louie was found and uncovered fossilized egg shells that were identical to the ones from “Baby Louie’s nest.

然而,即使发现了巨大的窃蛋龙化石,研究人员又花了10年时间才发表这种关联的论文。泽莱尼茨基博士及她的同事担心这块化石的法律状态,想等到路易贝贝送回中国再研究。2013年,这个化石胚胎终于回归中国了,并在郑州河南地质博物馆展出。2015年,泽莱尼茨基博士的一些同事回到了路易贝贝在中国被发现的地方,发现了与路易贝贝那窝蛋相同的石化的蛋壳。

David J. Varricchio, a paleontologist from Montana State University, who was not involved in the study, said it was satisfying to finally see the identity of Baby Louie confirmed. He added that the findings could help paleontologists better understand dinosaurs and their eggs.

蒙大拿州立大学(Montana State University)的古生物学家戴维·J·维里乔(David J. Varricchio)说(他并未参与这项研究),看到路易贝贝的身份最终获得确认让人很高兴。他还表示,这些发现可以帮助古生物学家更好地了解恐龙和恐龙蛋。

“It answers an interesting puzzle of who these giant eggs belong to,” he said.

“这解开了这些巨型恐龙蛋属于谁的有趣谜题,”他说。

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