Scientists Say Egg Find Is World’s Oldest
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (AP) _ Shells of dinosaur eggs found in western Colorado are believed to be the oldest ever discovered, researchers say.
The fossil eggshells were found in the upper Jurassic Morrison Formation and date back 145 million years, said Karl F. Hirsch, a paleontology researcher at the University of Colorado.
The age was pinpointed by the geologic formation in which they were found, he said Wednesday.
The find pre-dates dinosaur eggs uncovered on Egg Hill in a major excavation in northern Montana, near Choteau, Hirsch said.
″These are roughly twice as old as they are in Montana,″ he said at a news conference. ″Now we hope we can find some bones to see who laid it.″
The shells were discovered a year ago by Robert G. Young, a Grand Junction geologist who was exploring Wells Gulch about 30 miles south of Grand Junction.
Young said he and two Egyptian students were measuring thickness of rock in a certain geological section when they came across black eggshell fragments.
Although no complete eggs have been found, curvature of the pieces indicate the eggs would have been about 8 inches long and 3 1/2 inches in diameter.
″We’re hoping to find an embryo in place,″ Young said.
The research is being conducted by the Museum of Western Colorado, and the news conference was held at Dinosaur Valley, a Grand Junction museum and tourist attraction where the giant reptiles are reproduced in half-scale.
Northwestern Colorado has produced hundreds of fossil finds since the turn of the century, when Elmer Riggs, assistant curator of paleontology at the Field Museum in Chicago, unearthed the fossil of a 75-foot-long Brachiosaurus althithoraz, at the time the largest dinosaur discovery.
Dinosaur National Monument is in Colorado’s northwest corner, about 120 miles north of Grand Junction.
Scientists say dinosaurs roamed the Grand Valley when it was a warm, humid flood plain. Later geologic activity turned the area into a mountainous desert and caused the formation of vast oil shale deposits throughout the plateau.
The exact location of the newest find will remain secret until research is completed, said Harvey Armstrong, curator of paleontology at the Museum of Western Colorado.