Paleontologists in China have discovered two eggs the size of a cannonball filled with crystals.
Fossilized spherical eggs belong to a previously unknown type of dinosaur and were found filled with calcite crystals. They were discovered in the Qianshan Basin in east China’s Anhui Province.
Three eggs were extracted from the soil of the aquarium, leaving only two eggs. The researchers who made the discovery noted that the third was “lost and still in the process of being collected.” It is not clear if the third egg was misplaced, damaged during excavation, or stolen. The remaining two eggs are labeled by name Shixingoolithus qianshanensis, making it a newly described environment. (Oospecies, oogenera and oofamilies are the taxonomic names for dinosaurs known only from their eggs.) The researchers published their findings on August 25 in Journal of Paleontology.
According to the researchers, the eggs are “spherical” and roughly the size of a cannonball, measuring 4.1 to 5.4 inches (105 to 137 mm) long and 3.9 to 5.3 inches (99 to 134 mm) wide. Two collected eggs were found partially broken; The researchers report that its inner surface is “covered with a crystalline layer of calcite, and individual calcite crystals are evident.”
The study authors explained that calcite is a carbonate mineral commonly found in the eggs of birds and dinosaurs. Calcite crystals form when calcium carbonate – which is also used to strengthen bones, teeth and nails – separates from the eggshell structure and accumulates on its inner surface in the form of slowly growing crystals.
A previous study published in 2014 in the journal chalk search Suggest to find out earlier Shixingoolithus The eggs of different species likely belonged to the ornithopod – a group of duck-billed, herbivorous and mostly bipedal dinosaurs that grew up to 30 feet (9 meters) high. Ornithopods lived from the latter part of the Triassic period (251.9 million to 201.3 million years ago) until the late cretaceous period (145 million to 66 million years ago) – and then they were exterminated and all dinosaurs other than birds due to the impact and consequences of the asteroid Chicxulub, which collided with the Yucatan Peninsula.
After this catastrophic collision, huge amounts of matchsticks they were Jump high in the stratosphere. Sulfur gases blocked the sun and cool quickly a landperhaps for centuries, while it also rains deadly acid rainChanging ocean chemistry for tens of thousands of years. All this led to the extinction of nearly 75% of the plant and animal species on Earth – including ornithopods.
During the Cretaceous period, what is now eastern China experienced volcanic eruptions that deposited huge amounts of sediment, making the area a particularly rich area for fossil hunters. According to National Geographic (Opens in a new tab)In this study, more than 60 species of plants, nearly 90 species of vertebrates, and about 300 species of invertebrates have been identified in northwest China’s Liaoning Province alone.
The researchers report that these conditions are also great for preserving dinosaur eggs.
“Dinosaur eggs in the Upper Cretaceous period of China were characterized by enormous quantities, abundant species and wide distribution,” they wrote in the study. “Approximately 16 biological families and 35 eugenera have been reported in China.”
Originally published on Live Science.