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A cracking look at the world of fossilized dinosaur eggs

By David, 19 April 2016 News

Written by Julia Cleghorn

A big red rock with lots of smaller gray lumps in it.

Dinosaur eggs by the dozen!
Image: The Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences

Almost two years ago, we reported on the discovery of a special fossilized dinosaur specimen – the first pterosaur egg preserved in 3D! Pretty impressive, huh? Since then, there have been some other interesting finds. So we thought it was time to crack open the fossil files and take a look at some of the most egg-citing dinosaur egg finds!

Dr Thomas Rich is Senior Curator in Vertebrate Palaeontology at the Melbourne Museum. He says: “Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a single egg found in Australia. But fossilized dinosaur egg discoveries aren’t all that rare, if you know where to look. Argentina, Montana and China are some of the most significant discovery sites.”

It was only last April that the South China Morning Post reported a discovery of 43 fossilized dinosaur eggs, 19 fully intact, by road workers in the city of Heyuan. The fossils were given to the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who say: “We are still studying the eggs, but preliminary findings suggest they belong to [a new group of eggs known as] stalicoolithids.” The find adds to the city’s Guinness World Record collection, which includes more than 10 000 eggs.

One of the largest-known dinosaur nesting sites is actually in Argentina, at a place called Auca Mahuevo. The discovery was made in the 1990s and at the time, ScienceDaily reported that: “Eggs were so plentiful that it was virtually impossible to walk without crushing egg-shell fragments underfoot.” Some eggs even contained preserved embryos with fossilized skin, which scientists found to be from the giant plant-eating dinosaurs called sauropods.

Another major nesting site is in Montana, along the United States Rocky Mountain Front. Named Egg Mountain, the site contains a large concentration of fossilized dinosaur eggs. Many are from the duck-billed dinosaur, Maiasaura, whose name means ‘good mother lizard.’ Paleontologist Jack Horner is credited, in part, with the initial discovery of the fossils in 1970s. He also worked as a technical advisor on the Jurassic Park movies.

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