In 1883, what was believed to be an ornamental gemstone was cataloged and placed in the mineralogy collection of the Natural History Museum in London.
Agate was found in central India, as it was called Completely sphericalabout 6 inches long and a light pink colour.
Despite the stone’s beauty, it “was not thought to hold great other significance,” according to a March 29 press release from the Museum of Natural History.
That was until Robin Hansen went into metal show.
Hansen, one of the curators of the mineralogy collection, traveled to France shortly after the museum’s agate display in 2018.
“As I was looking around the display, a merchant showed me a wondrous dinosaur egg, which was spherical, with a thin shell, and a dark agate in the middle,” Hansen said in the statement. That was a lightening moment when I thought: ‘Wait a minute, this looks a lot like the one we just showed at the museum! “
Hansen decided to talk to some dinosaur experts.
I spoke with paleontologists, and they agreed that the agate was just the right size and shape to possibly be an egg, and the stone showed evidence that it had once been pressed against other spherical rocks, much like an egg claws into a nest, said Release.
Upon closer examination, the researchers found that the agate was lined with a thin white layer, likely eggshell.
“It was correctly identified and cataloged as agate in 1883 using the scientific knowledge available at the time,” Hansen said in the statement. “Only now that we realize this specimen had something extra special—opal has filled this spherical structure, which turns out to be a dinosaur egg.”
Discover the egg
The egg was first collected sometime between 1817 and 1843 by a man named Charles Fraser who was living in India during that time, according to the statement.
The museum said this means the egg was collected “at least 80 years before dinosaur eggs were scientifically identified”.
The existence of dinosaur eggshells wasn’t confirmed until 1923, according to the museum, when an entire nest was found in Mongolia.
It may have been plural before the word “dinosaur” appeared, as the word was not Defined until 1842According to the museum.
The timing of the egg’s discovery means it may be the first dinosaur egg ever found – and they didn’t even know it.
Based on the age of the egg, and where it was found, paleontologists believe it belonged to a titanosaur, the largest dinosaur on Earth, according to the statement.
Life is like a titanosaur
Titanosaurs lived from 163.5 million years ago until about 66 million years ago, according to Encyclopedia Britannica, and they could grow to 85 feet in height, making them The largest land animal ever known.
Compared to their large size as adults, their eggs were surprisingly small, as evidenced by long garnets from India.
Paleontologist Paul Barrett said in the release: “It seems really strange because these were huge animals, but what they were doing instead was laying lots of eggs. Many living animals that we know of use this trade-off, where they either invest in a small number of eggs larger or in a greater number of smaller eggs.
“It seems that the titanosaurs adopted a strategy of laying large clutches of about 30 or 40 small eggs,” he said.
The statement stated that paleontologists also believe that dinosaurs regularly returned to volcanic areas to lay their eggs because it was warm.
“This will also help explain how chalcedony formed,” the museum said. “It is possible that shortly after the titanosaurus laid its eggs in the warm sand, a nearby volcano erupted.”
According to the statement, the volcanic rock had covered a dinosaur’s nest, which then solidified, leaving the amount of eggs that were sucked inside the stone. The fetus would have rotted, and silica-laden water would have filled the void, eventually hardening into the beautiful pink stone we see today.
Sixty million years later, it was excavated in India and brought to London.
The eggs and other specimens are on display at London’s Natural History Museum as part of the “Titanosaur: Life as the Biggest Dinosaur” exhibition.
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