An Egg ‘Inside’ Another Dinosaur Egg Was Found in Madhya Pradesh
It was, apparently, a field trip by a research team of the Delhi University (DU) that led to a “first-of-kind find in fossil history.” In the district of Dhar in Madhya Pradesh, the researchers discovered an “abnormal” dinosaur egg — with its peculiarity attributed to the fact that it was an egg inside another egg.
This Russian doll-esque dinosaur egg, though, isn’t just an intriguing bit of information that currently stands out among the crisis fatigue-inducing news, only to be buried by the next Met Gala, Cannes, or celebrity wedding. While the highly-fleeting, ever-transient public interest in the discovery may indeed wane, its impact on the scientific understanding of how the mighty dinosaurs reproduced probably won’t — especially due to the implications of the discovery that the researchers highlighted in their paper that was published in the journal Scientific Reports this month.
“The new pathological egg is a rare and important find as no ovum-in-ovo egg was found in reptiles until now,” said co-author Guntupalli V.R. Prasad from the department of geology at DU, explaining that the discovery “brings out significant information on whether dinosaurs had a reproductive biology similar to that of turtles and lizards or their immediate cousins… birds.”
In the past, the reproductive function of dinosaurs was, reportedly, likened to that of turtles — alongside other reptiles, like lizards. However, until now, just like scientists hadn’t ever come across an egg-in-egg in dinosaur fossils, they hadn’t observed the phenomenon in reptiles either.
Interestingly, the phenomenon has been observed in another set of animals: birds. “Forget unboxing videos. An egg-opening video caught the internet’s attention with a bizarre secret,” CNET reported in February 2017, elaborating that, “[A] YouTube user… posted a fascinating video over the weekend showing a giant mutant chicken egg. The lumpy-looking creation dwarfs a normal egg. When cracked open, the egg reveals a yolk and another fully formed egg inside. That smaller egg also contains a regular yolk and white.”
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A process called “counter-peristalsis contraction” — which, albeit rare, isn’t unprecedented — is believed to drive the formation of an egg within another egg in birds. It occurs when a fully-formed egg starts to travel backward in a hen’s reproductive system, becoming embedded into another egg that’s still being formed. What ends up happening, then, is that the second egg forms around the first. Evidently, it’s a rare phenomenon in dinosaurs, too — given that only one egg from the large number of titanosaurid sauropod nests discovered by the researchers was an egg-in-egg.
What the present discovery, then, holds is insights into evolution itself. In more specific terms, it has made the scientific community wonder whether dinosaurs — considered a “group of reptiles” — had evolved to reproduce like birds.
But this isn’t the first time dinosaurs have been compared with birds. Sample this article from last year: “People often say that birds are related to dinosaurs, but that’s really not true – birds aren’t related to dinosaurs… they are dinosaurs! About 65 million years ago, a huge extinction wiped out all dinosaur groups except for one. That group of dinosaurs went on to become all the birds we see today.” In fact, chickens and ostriches are believed to be the closest living relatives of Tyrannosaurus rex.
With our curiosity in dinosaurs thus piquing, one might find themselves hoping for Christopher Nolan to direct Eggception next. Perhaps, it’ll shed more light on the phenomenon; unless, of course, it ends up needlessly complicating the process in an unfortunate Tenet-esque manner — leaving it up to the scientific fraternity to enlighten us through even more complicated jargon.