Scientists have announced the discovery of cannonball-sized dinosaur eggs that were filled with clusters of calcite crystals. The two fossilised eggs were discovered in China in the Qianshan Basin of Anhui Province. The amazing discovery was detailed by Chinese experts in a new research paper, published in the Journal of Palaeogeography.
The two almost perfectly-round eggs date back to the Cretaceous period - the final time period of the age of dinosaurs. They are believed to be from a new species of dinosaur. Palaeontologists explained that they figured this out by using the eggs' larger sizes and tight arrangement of eggshell units, as well as their unique spherical shape.
"New oospecies Shixingoolithus qianshanensis represents the first discovery of oogenus Shixingoolithus from the Qianshan Basin. S. qianshanensis also provides new paleontological evidence for the identification, division and correlation of the Upper Cretaceous-Lower Paleocene strata in the Qianshan Basin, Anhui Province, East China," the paper's authors wrote.
"Dinosaur eggs in the Upper Cretaceous of China are characterized by prodigious quantities, abundant types and wide distribution. Approximately 16 oofamilies and 35 oogenera have been reported in China," they added.
Further, the experts explained that due to the effects of weathering, the outmost part of the eggshells and the corresponding secondary eggshell units are not preserved in the newly discovered dinosaur eggs.
They informed that one of the eggs is partially damaged and therefore has its interior clusters of calcite crystals exposed. Both are "nearly spheroid", with a length between 4.1 inches and 5.3 inches and a width between 3.8 inches and 5.2 inches, which is about the same size as a cannonball.
As per the researchers, the eggs represent a new "oospecies" called Shixingoolithus qianshanensis. This suggests that the newly discovered eggs belong to ornithopods - small, plant-eating, bipedal dinosaurs.