On Fossil Eggshells – #365papers – 2018 – 63

Montanari, 2018, Cracking the egg: the use of modern and fossil eggs for ecological, environmental and biological interpretation: Royal Society Open Science, v. 5, 180006.

What’s it about?

Most people think of bones or shells as the most important mineralized remains of fossil animals. Vertebrates, particularly land-dwelling vertebrates, produce a third important (though often overlooked) mineralized remnant: Egg shells.

The author reviews the state of knowledge of vertebrate eggs in modern animals and in the fossil record. Egg shells are excellent sources of carbonate minerals commonly used for chemical analysis, but also contain organic components including DNA. Fossil egg shells provide a wide-open direction for new paleontological and paleoecological reserach.

Why does it matter?

Egg shells actually preserve very well, but are often ignored. We need to not ignore them so much.

Why did I read this?

I’ve done analysis of fossil egg shells from dinosaurs before (interestingly, with the author of this paper!). It’s interesting to see this line of research expanding.

What did I learn?

I already understood the mineral component of eggshells, but I was interested to learn that DNA from both the hen and the chick could be preserved on a shell!


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