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First Hungarian Dinosaur Egg Displayed in Hungarian Museum of Natural History

Fanni Kaszás 2020.09.25.

The finding of the first Hungarian dinosaur egg (Pseudogeckoolithus) was presented yesterday in the Semsey Andor Lecture Hall of the Hungarian Museum of Natural History, organized by the museum, Eötvös Loránd University, and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. The remains of a few centimeters of an oval-shaped egg with a peculiar surface were unearthed during the excavations at Iharkút and are thought to be from a small predatory dinosaur.

The first Hungarian dinosaur egg was identified by the versatile examination of a few millimeters of 85 million-year-old eggshell fragments, explained biologist Edina Prondvai, a member of the Paleontological Research Group of MTA-MTM-ELTE. The biologist added that the finding had been known for a couple of years now, but only this year was it possible to definitively prove the origin of the Maniraptora dinosaur through crystal structure examinations that the Hungarian research group performed on the eggshell fragments in collaboration with a South Korean research team.

photo: Attila Kovács/MTI

Attila Ősi, a paleontologist at the Department of Paleontology at Eötvös Loránd University, said that excavations have been carried out at the Iharkút vertebrate site for 20 years, during which more than 100,000 finds were discovered. The many thousands of tiny, few millimeters of eggshell shards were found as a result of siltation work. Examining these, they were later able to identify the petrified egg residue of nearly three centimeters.

The morphological, microstructural, and elemental composition study of the Late Cretaceous fossil eggshell fragments was started in 2015 by a group of mainly Hungarian researchers, and the results of their work were published in 2017. In a study led by biologist Edina Prondvai, the researchers suggested that the shell type that makes up the vast majority of these eggshells came from small predatory dinosaurs called Maniraptors. Already the first results confirmed the suggestion of Hungarian researchers that eggshells from Iharkút are the remains of raptor eggs.

photo: Attila Kovács/MTI

During the excavations in Iharkút, a few centimeters long, extremely fragmentary, oval-shaped find with a strange surface was discovered, which revealed that “the seemingly insignificant find is actually the first fossil dinosaur egg found in Hungary.” Later, microCT images revealed that the egg unfortunately has no embryonic bone remains and it mainly consists of sedimentary rock which fills the inside, so only cracked shell residues adhering to its surface prove its origin.

However, according to Prondvai, the identified egg residue is not only the first Hungarian fossil dinosaur egg, but also the first egg representing this type of eggshell in the whole of Europe, and even – to the best of their knowledge – in the world. The first Hungarian dinosaur egg will be on display as part of the permanent exhibition of the Hungarian Museum of Natural History.

featured photo: Attila Kovács/MTI