Two nearly perfectly round dinosaur eggs have been discovered in eastern China.
The globular eggs were recovered in the Qianshan Basin in eastern China’s Anhui province, experts say, and date back to the Cretaceous Period.
The Cretaceous Period, which lasted between 145 million and 66 million years ago, was the last period of the dinosaur age.
At the end of the Cretaceous period, dinosaurs were wiped out by a huge asteroid that slammed into the Earth.
Two new dinosaur eggs dating back to the Cretaceous have been discovered in eastern China. Above (A) are the two eggs, named QS-01 and QS-02. QS-01 is described as “incomplete” because it is fractured and exposed calcite crystals. Bottom (B) shows the inner and outer surface of QS-01
Researchers say the globular eggs were recovered in the Qianshan Basin in East China’s Anhui Province
EGGS DATE TO THE Cretaceous Period
The Mesozoic is a name given to the period from 250 million to 65 million years ago.
The era is divided into three major periods: Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous. The eggs date from the Cretaceous Period (145 million to 66 million years ago).
Mesozoic was the age of the dinosaurs and lasted almost 180 million years.
The Mesozoic followed the Paleozoic, in which arthropods, mollusks, fish, and amphibians all evolved.
The Mesozoic was followed by the Cenozoic, in which the continents assumed the configuration we know today.
The astonishing discovery has been detailed by Chinese experts in a new research paper, published in the Journal of paleogeography.
“Here we describe two newly discovered dinosaur eggs from the Chishan Formation in the Upper Cretaceous in the Qianshan Basin, in Anhui Province, eastern China,” the authors say.
“Due to the effects of weathering, the outer part of the eggshells and associated secondary eggshell units are not preserved in the newly discovered Qianshan dinosaur eggs.”
One of the eggs is complete, named QS-02, while the other, QS-01, is partially damaged and therefore the inner clusters of calcite crystals are visible.
Both are ‘almost spherical’, with a length between 4.1 inches and 5.3 inches and a width between 3.8 inches and 5.2 inches.
“Its outer surfaces are weathered and have no apparent ornamentation,” the authors say.
‘The inner surface of the eggshell fragment of QS-01 is covered with a calcite crystal layer and individual calcite crystals are visible.’
According to the team, the eggs represent a new “oospecies” — equivalent to one used to classify fossilized dinosaur eggs — called Shixingoolithus qianshanensis.
Previous research suggests that Shixingoolithus likely represents eggs from ornithopods — small, herbivorous, bipedal dinosaurs.
Ornithopods have been described as ‘bird hips’ because their pelvic structure is somewhat similar to birds. Pictured, Parasaurolophus, a genus of herbivorous ornithopod dinosaurs that lived in the late Cretaceous Period
Ornithopods have been described as ‘bird hips’ because their pelvic structure is somewhat similar to birds.
The ornithopods flourished from the late Triassic to the late Cretaceous and were one of the most enduring dinosaur clades.
But like other dinosaurs, they were wiped out by the Chicxulub impact event — a plummeting asteroid or comet that slammed into a shallow sea on Mexico’s present-day Yucatán Peninsula about 66 million years ago.
For those not directly killed by the impact, the impact released a huge cloud of dust and soot that fueled global climate change, wiping out 75 percent of all animal and plant species.
The Chicxulub impact is widely believed to have caused the mass extinction event that drove the extinction of non-avian dinosaurs (concept image)
All non-avian dinosaurs, pterosaurs, ammonites and most marine reptiles disappeared, while mammals, birds, crocodiles and turtles survived.
When the asteroid hit the Earth, it shook the continental plate and created huge waves in water bodies, such as rivers and lakes.
These displaced huge amounts of sediment that engulfed fish and buried them alive, while impact spheres (glass beads of earth’s rock) rained from the sky less than an hour after the impact.
REDUCE DINOSAURS: HOW A CITY SIZE ASTEROID DESTROYS 75 PERCENT OF ALL ANIMAL AND PLANT SPECIES
About 66 million years ago, non-avian dinosaurs were wiped out, wiping out more than half of the world’s species.
This mass extinction paved the way for the rise of mammals and the appearance of humans.
The Chicxulub asteroid is often cited as a possible cause of the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction.
The asteroid slammed into a shallow sea in what is now the Gulf of Mexico.
The collision released a huge cloud of dust and soot that caused global climate change and wiped out 75 percent of all animal and plant species.
Researchers argue that the soot needed for such a global catastrophe could only come from a direct impact on rocks in shallow water around Mexico, which are particularly rich in hydrocarbons.
Within 10 hours of the impact, a massive tsunami ripped through the Gulf Coast, experts believe.
About 66 million years ago, non-avian dinosaurs were wiped out, wiping out more than half of the world’s species. The Chicxulub asteroid is often cited as a possible cause of the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction (stock image)
This caused earthquakes and landslides in areas as far as Argentina.
While investigating the event, researchers found small particles of rock and other debris that were shot into the sky when the asteroid crashed.
These tiny particles, called spherules, covered the planet with a thick layer of soot.
Experts explain that the loss of light from the sun caused a complete collapse of the water system.
This is because the phytoplankton base of almost all aquatic food chains would have been eliminated.
It is believed that the more than 180 million years of evolution that brought the world to the Cretaceous Period were destroyed in less than the lifespan of a Tyrannosaurus rex, which is about 20 to 30 years.