75 million year dinosaur egg hunt

(Fotolia)

(Fotolia)

Shawn Logan, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 6:32 PM ET

A team from Alberta's Royal Tyrrell Museum is excavating an area just southeast of Lethbridge, Alta., in an egg hunt 75 million years in the making that may shed light on the early lives of dinosaurs.

Francois Therrien, a paleoecologist with the Drumheller, Alta.,-based museum, said the Devil's Coulee site is rich with ancient nests of at least two separate duck-billed dinos and five different Cretaceous-era carnivores.

"It's really a rich spot ─ the area is literally covered with dinosaur egg shells," Therrien said.

"Earlier this summer I was walking around Devil's Coulee and I saw egg shells breaking through the surface."

It's believed the eggs are those of maiasaurus, a duck-billed dinosaur common in Montana but not thought to have made its way as far north as Canada.

With the shells embedded into the earth, it's hoped excavating a large piece of rock will allow lab technicians to carefully scrape away outer layers and recover any intact eggs left behind.

And in those eggs, which are about the size of a volleyball, it's hoped some fossilized embryos may be left behind.

"When the egg comes to the surface, it falls apart so in order to preserve it we have to collect a big block or rock and take it back to the lab," Therrien said.

"We know the eggs will be inside the block."

The team is also digging out the remains of a hypacrosaurus egg (another herbivore in the same family), found eroding out of a hill.

Whether or not an intact embryo is salvaged will depend on when it was fossilized, he added.

"But if all we find are the eggs, it's still a Canadian first."

shawn.logan@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @SUNShawnLogan

 


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