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Scientists solve a mystery related to the agate “rock”.

Scientists solve a mystery related to the agate “rock”.

Since 1883, pink and white agate has rested peacefully and quietly in the Natural History Museum, Mineralogical Collection in London (United Kingdom) and since that time has proven to be something very interesting and mysterious.

The object, about 15cm in diameter and almost completely spherical, was finally revealed after 175 years: it is a dinosaur egg.

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Robin Hansen, one of MHN’s curators of minerals and one of those responsible for preparing the specimen for display in 2018, felt fascinated and drawn to the ‘rock’ and, on a subsequent trip to a mineral exhibition in France, was able to reveal the secret.

Volcanic activities could have turned the titanosaur egg into a garnet “rock” (Image: Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London)

As I wandered through the exhibit, a dealer showed me a sterile, spherical dinosaur egg with a thin shell and a dark opal in the middle. “Wait a minute,” I thought, “it’s a lot like the one we just showed at the museum!”

Robin Hansen, MHN Minerals Curator

  • According to the IFLScienceThe mineral was then examined by the museum’s dinosaur curators, Professor Paul Barrett and Dr Susie Maidment;
  • They decided to conduct a CT scan on the “rock.”
  • However, the density of the garnet made it impossible to perform CT imaging;
  • In contrast, the pair agreed that the thin layer surrounding the agate resembles a shell, and found that its external appearance indicated that more than one object had been brought together;
  • Moreover, it was found in India and its size, shape and surface characteristics are the same as other titanosaur eggs found in China and Argentina;
  • The egg is estimated to be about 60 million years old, when titanosaurs were the most common dinosaurs in India.
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Paleontologists around the world recognize that titanosaurs, despite their massive size, were capable of laying between 30 and 40 eggs, and that they did not engage in co-parenting with their young.

Artistic representation of the titanosaur (Image: Reproduction)

This specimen is a perfect example of the importance of museum collections. [Ela] It was correctly identified and cataloged as agate in 1883, using the scientific knowledge available at the time.

Robin Hansen, MHN Minerals Curator

He added: “It is only now that we realize that this sample contains something even more special, which is the agate that filled this spherical structure, which turned out to be a dinosaur egg.”

How was this possible?

For the egg to turn into agate, in the researchers’ view, there was “help” from volcanic activity, which led to the formation of a layer of hardened volcanic rock after the eruption.

Their internal structures would have eventually dissolved, as silica-rich water is said to pass through the rock and enter the egg cavity, creating the striped opal that was on display 175 years ago.