Around 66 million years ago, an ancient marine reptile left a huge egg in Antarctica the size of a football. This large egg is believed to be the first soft-shell egg to be left on the continent, and scientists believe it was laid by an extinct animal. It’s thought the mosasaur, an extinct giant reptile, is responsible for laying this large egg.
The reptile egg was found almost a decade ago by Chilean scientists, but it sat around on research shelves for most of that time. It was clear to see that the egg was collapsed in on itself, leading scientists to come to the conclusion the egg was once soft. The structure of the egg is similar to that of snakes and lizards, and it wouldn’t have sat around for long before hatching. This style of egg develops inside the mother and will hatch immediately after it has been laid.
The egg scientists found was empty, meaning whatever grew inside had left it. As there is no trace of what was once inside, researchers had to get creative when figuring out what once occupied the egg. They compared this egg to that of 259 living reptiles to estimate the body size, which they concluded was around 6 feet.
The egg was found in a prehistoric cave, suggesting to scientists that it was born in some form of nursery site. The mother may have laid her eggs in the water, like a sea snake, and the young then scurried to the shore.
Scientists continue to learn more about our prehistoric world every day. This giant soft-shell egg is just another step in piecing together the Earth’s history.