Fossilized dinosaur embryo hailed as gigantic find
September 12, 1997
Web posted at: 11:40 p.m. EDT (0340 GMT)
From Correspondent Greg LaMotte
LOS ANGELES (CNN) --- Her name is Nicole, and while she was never born, paleontologists are hailing her as one of the greatest scientific finds of the century.
Nicole is a well-developed fossilized dinosaur embryo, still inside her egg, appearing to almost be peering out as if awaiting her birth. Scientists discovered her when they performed a CAT scan on dinosaur eggs found in China.
"Embryos have been found in eggs before, or bone has been found in eggs before, but the majority of those, all of those, have been found as bone mush down in the bottom of an egg," says paleontologist Steve Conkling.
But Nicole -- given that nickname by scientists -- is different. Visible are her skull and eye socket. Her rib cage, neck and forearm are discernible.
Conkling said it was "the top find in the last 20 years."
Her egg was among 5,000 found in a undisturbed cache in China, some of which are part of a display at Chapman College in Orange, California. Owned by a private collector, they are believed to be between 65 million and 110 million years old.
Scientists believe the discovery of the embryo, made possible by advances in CAT scanning technology, is a gigantic find that could provide important information relative to humans.
"If our goal as living, breathing animals on the Earth is to survive the next extinction event, maybe we can learn some of the lessons from animals that didn't and not repeat that historic event," Conkling said.