Friday, 13 February 2009


Yesterday marked the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin and I had an omelette for tea. Okay, so there's not really a direct link, but on the same day I saw an online poll asking the age-old question - 'Which came first - the chicken or the egg?'

There is no reason to be discussing this any more, as various beasties were laying eggs long before the chicken crossed the road. Dinosaur shell material and complete eggs from a number of sources have been on the commercial market for a while. Eggs from localities in Hunan and Mongolia were relatively common a few years ago, but Chinese legislature has made the exporting of the material illegal and supplies already outside of the country are beginning to dwindle. Shell from the Patagonian sauropod Saltasaurus was easy to source until another recent law change, but complete eggs were always much less available. Other shell sources included a small French locality and I think a Spanish one, but I haven't seen anything from there for a while.

The little theropod Oviraptor got its name from a famous misunderstanding. A find from a Mongolian site showed the remains of the dinosaur over a clutch of what was assumed to be ceratopsian eggs and it was thought the raptor had died getting some lunch. The name means 'egg thief'. A long time later further finds and new preparatory techniques showed the eggs to be those of the raptor and the maligned dinosaur had been nesting rather than pinching the eggs.
A prehistoric mis-trial.

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