A fascinating crystal added to a mineral collection 135 years ago is hidden inside an even rarer treasure: a 67-million-year-old titanosaur eggshell, writes Direct science.
The embedded egg came from a volcanic plain in central India, and leading researchers believe that the titanosaur nest containing the egg was engulfed by a volcano shortly after the dinosaur laid the egg.
The embryo decomposed while the eggshell was preserved after successive layers of volcanic rock formed. Over the millions of years since then, silica-rich water seeped through the eggshell and crystallized to form pale pink and white agate.
Charles Fraser discovered the crystal while living in India (1817–1843), and the Natural History Museum in Great Britain cataloged it as an agate in 1883. It remained in the museum’s collection for over a century until it was put back on display. 2018.
The near-spherical shape of the rock caught the attention of Robin Hanson, curator of the Museum of London’s mineral exhibition and the first person to suspect that the rock might actually be something else.
The diameter of the egg is 15 centimeters and corresponds to the dimensions of other titanosaur eggs previously found in China and Argentina. Paleontologists attempted to scan the specimen to confirm its origin, but the density of the agate prevented fine detail.
Titanosaurus: A huge beast measuring 37 meters long and weighing 70 tons
Researchers are convinced that it is a titanosaur egg, as these giant beasts were the most common dinosaurs in what is now India during the late Cretaceous period (100 to 66 million years ago).
This year, scientists discovered titanosaur nests in India that are nearly 3 million years older than recently documented.
Despite being the world’s largest dinosaur at 37.5 meters long and weighing 70 tons, titanosaurs laid tiny eggs, measuring 12 to 15 centimeters in diameter, according to a study published in the journal PLOS One.
Titanosaurs lay 30-40 eggs at a time. Because they are too large to hatch, the eggs are often covered with vegetation and soil to aid in incubation.
This reproductive strategy is similar to that of sea turtles and crocodiles today. Museum experts say the titanosaurs may have used the volcanic environment in which they lived to lay their eggs in the warm soil and were better protected until they hatched.
Author: Raul Nesoyu
Download the Digi24 app and find the most important news of the day
“Evil gamer. Amateur music trailblazer. Alcohol geek. Problem solver. Coffee advocate. Troublemaker. Infuriatingly humble zombieaholic.”