Not many teenagers can say “I discovered an 82 million year-old dinosaur egg,” but Prescott Atkinson and his Selma, Alabama buddies can. Back in the 1970s, that’s exactly what they did. On June 1, Auburn University unveiled the dino egg for the world to see. Keep reading for all the details.
Fun facts about this amazing dinosaur egg discovery + display:
Even though the egg was once delicate, it turned to stone ages ago.
“Millions of years ago, a fragile dinosaur egg approximately two inches long washed out to sea and was protected in layers of sediment for an incredible journey.”Maria Gebhardt, Auburn University College of Science and Mathematics
When Atkinson and his friends found the egg, the intact shell made it impossible for anyone to know what was inside. After he finished medical school, he conducted a CT scan on the egg, but it couldn’t distinguish between bones and rock. Later, an international trip to the European Synchrotron in Grenoble, France for digital X-rays gave a clearer picture of bones and helped confirm that it was, in fact, a dinosaur egg.
Also, it turned out, the egg includes an intact embryo—who knew? It’s also the most complete dino specimen in the eastern US.
DYK: it’s harder for scientists to discover dinosaurs in the eastern part of the US—as opposed to the West—because we have so much vegetation. Much easier to find bones in hot, dry areas with little-to-no growth. One more reason why this discovery is just so darn cool.
Where you’ll find the dinosaur egg
If you’re in Auburn and you want to check it out, here’s where you’ll need to go:
- Rouse Life Sciences Building, Auburn University, 120 W. Samford Ave., Auburn, AL 36849—part of the Auburn University Museum of Natural History (AUMNH) collections
- 1st floor, close to the rotunda
Once you’re there, look for a wall display featuring the dinosaur egg, maps showing where it was found and an interactive tablet where you can see digital images, including actual bones inside the egg.
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