World’s Largest Dinosaur Eggs – The Facts are Scrambled

By |2023-01-29T10:53:08+00:00April 20th, 2012|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Chechnya’s Giant Dinosaur Egg Discovery – Doubts Raised

Earlier this week we were sent some pictures taken by a team of scientists who were examining what was thought by a number of observers to be the fossilised remains of dinosaur eggs.  Construction workers undertaking the building of a new road were blasting their way through a hillside near the Chechen border with Georgia when the discovery of more than forty, strange, spherical objects embedded in the hillside was made.  The strange objects, ranging in size from a few centimetres across to a whopping 1.02 metres were described as being dinosaur eggs and their discovery led to a “scramble” amongst scientists to learn more.

Dinosaur Eggs

The Chechnya region has suffered in the past twenty years or so as separatist movements fought with Russia in a bid to form an independent state.  The war torn region has had millions of pounds of state aid poured into it in a bid to improve the living conditions for the local population, the road building project was one such regional development measure, however, the planners did not “eggspect” to have a dinosaur egg hunt on their hands.

Keen to take advantage of the find, a number of local businessmen have expressed an interest in developing guided tours to the remote hillside to view the “dinosaur eggs”.  The discovery has certainly attracted the attention of the local population with many of the curious venturing up the hillside to take a closer look at the objects.

Commenting on the strange phenomena a senior geologist at the Chechen State University stated:

“We’ve found about forty eggs so far, the exact number has not been established and there could be many more under the ground.”

Some scientists are claiming that the eggs were laid by a huge long-necked dinosaur known as a sauropod, the largest, land living animals known to science.   A number of samples and specimens have been sent to palaeontologists based in the city of Yessentuki in southern Russia’s Stavropol Region for a more thorough examination.

Other scientists have cast doubt about whether these are dinosaur eggs.  Chechyna is located in the south-eastern corner of Europe and the geology of the area is extremely complicated.  The northern Caucasus mountain range runs throughout this region, the result of extensive tectonic activity between the Eurasian and the Arabian plates.  The scientists claim that the strata within which the eggs were found dates to around sixty million years ago.  The  dinosaurs are believed to have died out many millions of years before.  The extensive seismic and volcanic activity may have led to a considerable amount of re-distribution and re-deposition but palaeontologists and geologists are sceptical whether such “fossils” such as massive eggs would have survived these physical processes.

Although once underwater, part of the massive Tethys Ocean, the region has been mountainous for much of the Cretaceous, leading scientists to question how such large animals such as sauropods, (titanosaurs) could have roamed a mountainous region and laid eggs on the sides of steep slopes.

Scientists Question Claims

The size of the objects have also led scientists to question the validity of the claim.  Contrary to popular believe, dinosaur eggs were not enormous, in fact given the size of some of the adults that laid the eggs, dinosaur eggs were not disproportionately any bigger than the eggs of many birds.  Egg size is limited by a number of factors.  It is not merely due to the ability of an egg to pass through the oviduct of the adult attempting to lay, but also if the eggs of the largest dinosaurs were more than one metre in diameter, their weight would mean that the egg shell would have to be very thick.  The thickened egg shell would interrupt gaseous exchange and any dinosaur attempting to hatch would have had an extremely difficult job.

Some of the largest dinosaur eggs known, do come from Europe, but not the Caucasus mountains, they were found in France.  A number of football-sized eggs were discovered in France in the 19th Century.  They are believed to have been laid by a Late Cretaceous (Maastrichtian faunal stage) titanosaur known as Hypselosaurus.

To read more about Hypselosaurus and to see a picture of the dinosaur eggs that some scientists ascribe to this genus: The Big Eggs of a Dinosaur.

However, the largest of the French eggs, some thirty centimetres in diameter are dwarfed by the strange eggs of Chechyna.  The objects are simply too big to be regarded as eggs.

Yuri Gubin from the Moscow Museum of Palaeontology has cast doubt about the authenticity of the find, he stated:

The boundary between the shell and inner structure are clearly seen on the dinosaur eggs.  I haven’t mentioned it on the discovery of the Chechen specialists, I think it’s a kind of sphere-like rocks.  You can’t imagine how many such “eggs” were brought to our museum by Moscow residents”.

Photographs show a close up of some of the giant “dinosaur eggs”, however if you look closely a number of interesting points, challenging the validity of the dinosaur egg theory can be made.  Firstly one of the arrows points to an exposed area that shows the internal structure of the so-called egg.  Although it is difficult to see all the detail clearly, the  internal structure is not typical of what would be expected inside a fossilised egg, for example there is no evidence of a fossilised embryo.  The shape of the object is very nearly round, most dinosaur eggs are not that spherical in shape.  In addition, one of the arrows points at another object which seems to have been squeezed between two of the “eggs”.  The shape of the object arrowed could have been due to physical processes that occurred during fossilisation but it is more likely that these strange structures may be caused by gaseous intrusions into the layers of sedimentary rock as they were being formed.  These would create bubble-like structures and it is probably natural, geological process that has formed the unusual pattern seen in this particular rock strata.  It is unlikely that this is evidence of a giant dinosaur’s nest.

A Fossilised Dinosaur Egg

Chinese dinosaur fossils. A fossilised dinosaur egg.

A fossilised dinosaur egg (Theropoda). Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Whilst it remains very likely that these egg-shaped objects are the result of natural , geological processes this has not dampened the enthusiasm or excitement of the locals, who have flocked to the area to take videos and photos of Chechnya’s very own dinosaur discovery.

For dinosaur toys and games including models of prehistoric animals visit: Everything Dinosaur.