Famed University of Alberta paleontologist Phil Currie part of team studying world's largest dinosaur eggs
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Famed University of Alberta paleontologist Phil Currie part of team studying world's largest dinosaur eggs

A Chinese farmer has led famed University of Alberta paleontologist Phil Currie to a nest containing the largest dinosaur eggs ever found.

Currie, who has been working on the discovery since 1993, was taken in 2015 to the site in the central Chinese province of Henan by one of the farmers who found the half-metre-long eggs about 25 years ago.

“It was the most astounding thing. The whole area had been ripped up by enormous equipment terracing the mountainsides to plant walnut trees. The one slope remaining was where these giant eggs came from, and we found shells from the same specimen three decades later,” Currie said in a Tuesday news release.

Currie and an international team first thought they were tyrannosaur eggs, but determined from the skull of a fossilized embryo they were related to caenagnathids or oviraptorosaurs from Alberta.

A full-sized adult would have weighed two tonnes.


This was a partial nest containing six and nine eggs, unlike a normal oviraptorosaur nest that would have 30 or 40 eggs, the mother positioned in the middle to protect them with long feathers behind her arms.

It’s extremely rare to find dinosaur eggs and embryos because they’re usually dissolved by soil acidity or eaten by scavengers, Currie said.

An article in open-access journal Nature Communications by a group including Currie and his wife and U of A paleobotanist Eva Koppelhus says the specimens were among the most significant of thousands of eggs illegally exported from China in the 1980s and 1990s.

These included the embryo skeleton, nicknamed Baby Louie, which was featured in a National Geographic story and displayed by an Indianapolis museum for 12 years before it was sent back to the Henan Geological Museum in 2013.

gkent@postmedia.com

twitter.com/GKentYEG

source : Calgary SUN
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