Chechnya’s Giant Dinosaur Egg Discovery – Doubts Raised
Earlier this week (April 20th,2012) 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. There have been a considerable number of stories about this discovery in newspapers, journals and in both on-line and off-line media. 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.
Exciting Find in Chechyna
Dinosaur fossils are virtually unknown from this part of south-eastern Europe. To find a whole array of dinosaur eggs, some of them three times the size of any other eggs known from the fossil record is truly remarkable.
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 (GBP equivalent) 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.
Improving Tourism to the Region – A Dinosaur Attraction
Keen to take advantage of the find, a number of 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.
Scientists who have examined the site, state that something like forty egg-like objects have been identified, with probably more still buried within the hillside.
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.
Doubts Cast over the Dinosaur Eggs
Other scientists have cast doubt about whether these are dinosaur eggs at all. 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.
The Objects are Just Too Big to Be Dinosaur Eggs
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 eggshell would have to be very thick to contain the liquid inside. The thickened eggshell would interrupt gaseous exchange and any dinosaur attempting to hatch would have had an extremely difficult job
The Largest Dinosaur Eggs Known are From Europe
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. Hypselosaurus was a long-necked dinosaur, an animal that some palaeontologists speculate could have reached sizes in excess of ten metres long.
However, the largest of the French eggs, some thirty centimetres in diameter are dwarfed by the strange eggs of Chechnya. The objects are simply too big to be regarded as eggs.
As more samples are taken, a number of eminent Russian geologists and palaeontologists have spoken out against the “giant egg” claims. Close up photographs show no evidence of any embryos inside the supposed egg, and the internal structure of some of these bizarre shapes that have been cross-sectioned do not reveal the typical structure a scientist would see if it were a genuine fossilised reptilian egg.
The shape of the objects seen in the photographs are very nearly round, most dinosaur eggs are not that spherical in shape. In addition, the compressed shape of some “eggs” touching other round objects suggest that they could have been created by natural physical processes caused by seismic or volcanic activity. 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.
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.
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A Russian paleontologist on Thursday April 20th, 2012) debunked a sensational report about fossilized dinosaur eggs having been found in a rocky hillside in Chechnya, saying the “eggs” were most likely just rocks.
No dinosaur bones have ever been found in Chechnya and eggs of the size discovered would be a first, said Alexander Kharku of the Paleontology Institute, part of the Russian Academy of Sciences, RIA-Novosti reported Thursday.
“It is definitely geology. Eggs of dinosaurs that size have never been seen before. At the same time, there have been rather diverse discoveries that look like eggs: spherical, oval, ellipsoid shapes that are non-biological in origin,” Kharku said.
He said he had viewed video of the objects and was almost certain they were not eggs.
Earlier this week, geologists from Chechen State University said they had found about 40 objects ranging from 25 centimeters to 1 meter in diameter that they thought were dinosaur eggs.