An article in Gizmodo alerted me to a study from last year (unfortunately behind a paywall) that was able to analyze fossil eggs of certain dinosaurs. Researchers found that birds’ close dinosaur relatives had eggs with traces of two pigments—a red-brown one and a blue-green one. This same pair of pigments mixes and matches in today’s bird eggs to produce colors ranging from robin’s egg blue to red to yellow to green. What’s more, the analysis of pigments showed that dinosaur eggs even had spots and speckles.
Researchers previously found evidence that oviraptor dinosaurs had pigment in their eggs just like birds do. They discovered this by slicing off a piece of a dinosaur egg and putting it through a molecule-identifying mass spectrometer machine. For the new study, rather than sampling pieces of the eggs, they used Raman spectroscopy —hitting the samples with a laser and detecting the wavelengths of the light that bounces back. The colors of the scattered light reveal the kinds of molecules present in the eggs. The researchers sampled 19 eggs from the group that includes crocodilians and dinosaurs. Pigment did not occur in the crocodilians or the sauropods, but did in the theropods—long thought to be the dinosaur group that evolved to become birds.
For a long time bird experts assumed that egg color appeared in modern birds’ eggs multiple times, independently. Modern birds use only two pigments — blue-green biliverdin and red-brown protoporphyrin IX — to create all of the various egg colors, spots, and speckles. They found the pigments in eggshells belonging to Eumaniraptoran dinosaurs, which include small, carnivorous dinosaurs such as Velociraptor.
Contrary to “Jurassic Park” movies, Velociraptors probably looked like this…The inference is that egg color evolved along with open nesting habits to protect the eggs from predators. Colored eggs have been considered a unique bird characteristic for over a century but the researches now suspect that like feathers and wishbones, egg color evolved in their dinosaur predecessors long before birds appeared.”
It will be interesting to see how young earth creationists try to handle this latest data. The YECs have a tough time with the tremendous finds in the last decade of feathers on dinosaurs. In a May 30, 2015 article in Answers in Genesis, Avery Foley says:
Did dinosaurs have feathers? In a biblical worldview, we do not expect to find feathered dinosaurs. Currently the evidence does not support the idea that dinosaurs were covered in feathers. Now while we may not know for sure what dinosaurs looked like, what we do know is that birds did not evolve from dinosaurs.
One has to ask upon reading this “how does a biblical worldview inform us that dinosaurs didn’t have feathers?” Why couldn’t they have feathers? Foley seems to just assume that the exclusive defining characteristic of a bird is having feathers and thus it would be impossible for a dinosaur to have them. Why? The bible does not define birds as synonymous with feathers. In fact the bible does not even define the flying things as synonymous with what scientists call birds since bats and pterodactyls also fly and they lack feathers. Why couldn’t God have made some dinosaurs with feathers? Even if most dinosaurs did not have feathers that would not preclude some dinosaurs from having them. Foley follows here definitive statement about feathered dinosaurs with “we may not know for sure what dinosaurs looked like” and yet her biblical worldview is somehow informing her that dinosaurs would not have had feathers? She is very confused.
The problem for YECs is the Liaoning Province in northeastern China. This area, 120 million years ago, was forested lakesides filled with diverse wildlife. Nearby active volcanoes would periodically erupt, sending clouds of poisonous gas and ash into the air, and killing anything in the way. The gas killed any living thing and the dead were sometimes covered with a fine powder of volcanic ash, protecting their bodies, and enabling preservation in great detail.
Those details continue to support the evolutionary paradigm that dinosaurs evolved into birds. The colored egg data is one more piece of evidence that fails to falsify the evolutionary hypothesis. In point of fact, birds are dinosaurs. Birds are utterly amazing creatures. Dinosaurs are also amazing creatures. They captivate the imagination like no other beasts real or imagined. I find it both emotionally and intellectually satisfying that God preserved these animals through the creative process of evolving them into the fascinating and wondrous kingdom of birds.