Unhatched dinosaur eggs discovered

BRITISH scientists are celebrating the discovery of the largest collection of unhatched dinosaur eggs, writes Tom Wilkie. The eggs, which come from China, are believed to contain pterosaur and diplodocus embryos - the first of their type to be discovered.

Dr Neil Clark, curator of paleontology at the Hunterian Museum, Glasgow, has extracted six sauropod eggs from a block of red sandstone imported from China. One had hatched, but two are believed to contain embryos, possibly of diplodocus. The eggs are about 20cm (nearly 8ins) in diameter; an adult diplodocus could have been up to 30m long.

In Leicester, Terry Manning, a palaeotechnician, has uncovered the first pterosaur embryos within unhatched eggs. He is currently examining another batch of 35 eggs, of which he thinks eight might have embryos within. These differ from the pterosaur ones, and when asked which type of dinosaur they belong to, he admitted, 'I haven't got a clue.'

Both scientists rejected as fantasy the idea of recovering real embryos, Jurassic Park style, from within the eggs. The contents, some 80 million years old, are fossilised.

A very few unhatched dinosaur eggs have been discovered recently, most notably by Jack Horner in Montana, the United States, who uncovered entire nests. But as Mr Manning said yesterday, 'really well developed embryos are always going to be scarce.'