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The Oldest Vertebrate Egg?

Karl F. Hirsch
Journal of Paleontology
Vol. 53, No. 5 (Sep., 1979), pp. 1068-1084
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1304086
Page Count: 17
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The Oldest Vertebrate Egg?
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Abstract

Romer and Price (1939) described a Permian specimen from the Texas Redbeds as a shelled amniote egg, and implied that it was a "calcareous" eggshell. Of all the features observed by Romer and Price the only egg-like features are shape, size, shell-like cracks, and chemistry. Other features such as the internal structure of the nodes and the pattern of their distribution, the type of layering and the microstructure of the shell-like layer are not like those found in typical calcareous eggshells. Calcite, while present as the major mineralogical component, is not organized as in a calcareous fossil eggshell. Phosphorous and iron, although present as trace elements in recent calcareous eggshells, are much more concentrated in the specimen and in some cases are dominant. The absence of these characteristic features strongly suggests that this is not a calcareous eggshell. However, the relatively high phosphorous content in the outer layers of the specimen strongly suggests that it is of organic origin. Perhaps, considering the size, shape and phosphorous content, we are dealing with a soft-shelled reptilian egg.

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