Dinosaur Eggs Ready To Hatch Secrets 200 Million Years Later
In the late winter of 1976, the world famous fossil collector James Kitching was doing a survey near South Africa’s border with Lesotho.
To his surprise he found a tiny clutch of six fossilized eggs along the side of the road at a place known as Rooidraai.
took five years for skilled palentologists to remove enough rock matrix
from the eggs so that they could be preliminarily identified as the
first dinosaur embryos from South Africa and the oldest dinosaur embryos in the world.
on dinosaurs has truly blossomed in the 40 years since Kitching’s
extraordinary find and a great deal more is now known about the baby
dinosaurs in the eggs. But the exceptional secrets they hold are only
now being fully uncovered because of developments in technology. This
month the eggs were flown to Grenoble, a city at the foot of the French
Alps, where they are being examined under a powerful CT scan at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility.
secrets of the embryonic dinosaurs whose parents roamed South Africa
200 million years ago are in the process of being hatched.
high-resolution, 3D x-ray imaging methods are burgeoning in
palaeontology. With advances in modern imaging methods we are now able
to digitally remove rock matrix while making 3D models of the bones
CT scans come to the rescue
The solution to all of these
problems lies in CT scanning the specimen. The x-ray resolution needed
to study the embryos is so high (six microns, or .006 mm) that only a
few facilities in the world are capable of performing the study.
In late 2014, a team of us put together a winning proposal to scan the eggs at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility
in Grenoble. At the facility, a huge ring of electrons (almost a
kilometre in circumference) traveling at .99% of the speed of light
continuously generates beams of high-energy X-rays. These beams can be
harnessed with great precision to peer through rocks and image the