Sunday, 09 August, 2020


Mystery egg likely belonged to giant sea reptile, scientists say

Mystery egg likely belonged to giant sea reptile, scientists say First egg ever found in Antarctica may come from extinct sea lizard
Kristine Garrett | 21 June, 2020, 22:54

This is the world's second-largest egg which was, most likely, laid by a type of extinct sea snake or lizard.

The revelation ends almost a decade of speculation about the fossil, and could change thinking about the lives of marine creatures in this era, said Lucas Legendre, lead author of a paper detailing the findings, published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

"It is very rare to find fossil soft-shelled eggs that are that well-preserved", Legendre, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Texas at Austin, told AFP. "It is most similar to the eggs of lizards and snakes, but it is from a truly giant relative of these animals", Dr. Legendre said.

Above: The egg's soft shell shown in dark grey, and surrounding sediment as light grey.

The discovery marks a turning point both for its enormous size and for its rarity, since it is "unprecedented" that a soft-shell egg is preserved, which according to the expert, "tends to decompose easily and not be preserved as fossils". Measurements indicate the egg belonged to an individual roughly 7 meters long.

For years, visiting scientists tried to solve the mystery. Due to the size and there's no skeleton Inside it was, was not this Thesis is not necessarily obvious.

Clarke's hunch was confirmed when powerful microscopes revealed several layers of membrane beneath the surface of the egg. The first position still remains with the eggs of Madagascar's extinct giant flightless elephant birds.

As nothing like this has ever been discovered, it was previously thought that such giant marine reptiles did not lay eggs.

Instead they believe it came from a kind of reptile, possibly a group known as mosasaurs, which were common in the region.

The researchers say this would demand some fancy maneuvering by the mother because giant marine reptiles were too heavy to support their body weight on land.

An artist's rendering of a pair of mosasaurs and their egg. New research, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, suggests The Thing is actually a 66-million-year-old egg.

Co-author David Rubilar-Rogers of Chile's National Museum of Natural History was one of the scientists who discovered the fossil in 2011.

However, he wasn't able to identify the fossil as an egg until Julia Clarke, a professor in the Jackson School's Department of Geological Sciences, suggested that it could be a deflated egg, ScienceDaily reports. The egg was hatched and contained no skeleton of any reptile inside, making it hard for Legendre to identify the type of egg and what reptile could have laid it.

The answer, he theorised, was that early dinosaurs laid soft-shell eggs that were destroyed and not fossilised.

They found chemical signatures showing the dinosaurs would have been surrounded by soft, leathery eggshells.

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