What can we learn from Dinosaur eggs?


Here we have a nest of four dinosaur eggs, and they’re real eggs dated about 70 to 90 million years old from China. And the dinosaur that laid these eggs was one of the largest creatures to walk the face of the Earth. They were the big long-necked, plant-eating sauropod dinosaurs. And we know that that kind of dinosaur laid this kind of egg because of the shape of the egg, its size, and the very special structure of the egg shell. But occasionally some of these eggs contain skeletons of embryonic dinosaurs in them, so we know exactly what kind of dinosaur laid the eggs.

People often ask ‘How do delicate things like eggs become fossilized?’ Well it’s because sometimes the eggs don’t hatch and they become broken and eventually filled in with sand and other sediment. Eventually this sediment turns to rock around them and it preserves the shape of the egg. So in rare cases, delicate structures like these eggs can actually become fossils. These eggs were given to Museum Victoria as a gift for our involvement in helping the Federal Police seize these eggs from fossil dealers who were selling them illegally. A lot of these eggs are smuggled out of China and then sold on the black market.

These eggs are very valuable scientifically for what they tell us about dinosaurs. Of course many people know dinosaurs from their skeletons and bones, which give us a picture of what they looked like, or how they ran or how they walked. But fossils like these eggs tell us a lot about dinosaur behaviour, for example, we know that some dinosaurs laid their eggs in nests, and that sometimes the baby dinosaurs had bones that weren’t hardened and so they couldn’t walk, so they relied on parents to feed them. So eggs like this are wonderful in telling us all about dinosaurs as living animals, and they help put the biology back into palaeontology.

About this Video

Museum Victoria’s Dr John Long talks about what we can learn from dinosaur eggs.
Length: 01:53

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