The oldest egg of the Antarctic has been laid by a huge marine reptile
PARIS — An egg fossil discovered in Antarctica, similar to a rugby ball, to be the work of a huge marine reptile from the time of the tyrannosaurus, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature.
Aged 66 million years ago, the egg is the holder of many titles: first egg fossil found in Antarctica, largest egg, soft-shell, the second largest egg ever discovered (after the one of the elephant-bird of Madagascar, a volatile gone)… But his recognition only came on the later : since its discovery in 2011, fossil-waited patiently on the shelves of the Museum of natural history of Chile, his airs of a “deflated balloon” has left researchers doubtful. He had even been nicknamed “The Thing” in reference to the film of John Carpenter.
The mysterious object finally came out of anonymity after the visit to the Museum in 2018 a paleontologist american: Julia Clarke, co-author of the study. “I showed it to him and after a few minutes, Julia told me that it could be an egg deflated !”, tells in a press release from the University of Texas, David Rubilar-Rogers, one of the discoverers of the fossil. A theory since confirmed by cutting-edge expertise.
“This egg is soft-shell, that is to say that its shell is slightly mineralised and very flexible. It is a type of egg today laid by lizards and snakes,” said the AFP Lucas Legendre, of the University of Texas, also the co-author of the study.
To define what kind of animal could have laid such a thing, the researchers made an inventory of the animals present in Antarctica at that time. “There were a lot of dinosaurs, but most of them were too small to lay such an egg. And those who could be big enough laid eggs spherical. It really looks like the eggs of lizards and snakes, but it comes from a parent of these animals really giants,” he adds.
The researcher also believes that the reptile which laid the egg had to be over 6 meters long (not counting its tail). Maybe a mosasaur, a marine reptile disappeared, which is very common in Antarctica at this time.
“This new discovery shows that the eggs may be incredibly different in their structure and their proportions, and we do not fully understand the factors that can influence the variation of these parameters,” concludes Lucas Legendre.