After sitting in a museum for almost a decade, Antarctica’s “deflated football” has finally been identified as being a massive egg. It was unearthed by Chilean scientists back in 2011 at a location on the Antarctic Peninsula called the Lopez de Bertodano Formation of Seymour Island where it was once covered in forests and a lot warmer temperatures.
The fossilized soft-shell egg has been sitting in Chile’s National Museum of Natural History and was nicknamed “The Thing” after the sci-fi movie because of its mysterious and odd features. Dr. David Rubilar-Rogers, who was one of the members of the expedition as well as a co-author of the study, showed the egg to several geologists who visited the museum but none of them could identify it – except for when Professor Julia Clarke visited who claimed that she could “see a deflated egg”.
After extensive studies performed on the egg, experts found that it was in fact a massive reptile egg that was laid by a 23-foot-long sea creature that lived 66 million years ago. The sea lizard was known as a mosasaur and it was the one who laid the 11 inch by 8 inch egg that was unlike anything scientists have ever discovered before. Several pictures of the egg can be seen here.
Based on its thin shell as well as its size, it is believed that the sea creature was “ovoviviparous” meaning that the egg developed inside of the mother (called Antarcticoolithus bradyi) and as soon as she laid it, it would hatch immediately. “Many authors have hypothesized this was sort of a nursery site with shallow protected water – a cove environment where the young ones would have had a quiet setting to grow up,” explained lead author and geoscientist at Texas University, Dr. Lucas Legendre.
It’s still unclear whether the egg hatched in the water or on the beach. If the mother did in fact lay the egg on the beach, she would have had to wiggle her tail on shore while the remainder of her body stayed in the water. “We can’t exclude the idea they shoved their tail end up on shore because nothing like this has ever been discovered,” Clarke stated.
The egg was found among rocks that also contained skeletal remains (both adults and babies) of mosasaurs as well as plesiosaurs. According to Legendre, it was similar to eggs laid by snakes and lizards.
The most incredible fact about this discovery, however, is that it’s the second-largest egg found in the world – only slightly smaller than the Madagascar elephant bird egg. And it’s the biggest soft-shell egg ever discovered. Now that’s what you call a massive find.