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Scientist donates dinosaur egg to USC Aiken

Posted: April 18, 2017 - 10:57pm
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Dr. Carol Jantzen holds the raptor dinosaur egg she donated. It is known to be from a raptor because it was found in a whole nest with other eggs containing tiny skeletons.
Dr. Carol Jantzen holds the raptor dinosaur egg she donated. It is known to be from a raptor because it was found in a whole nest with other eggs containing tiny skeletons.

AIKEN - A scientist donated a 75-million-year-old raptor egg Wednesday to the University of South Carolina Aiken and it touched off some specific movie-related questions from the school children who attended the announcement.

"We will not be creating Jurassic Park here," said Dr. Gary Senn, director of the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center at USCA, when asked whether DNA could be extracted from the egg and then used to create a dinosaur, as happened in the movie of the same name.

Dr. Carol Jantzen, a consulting scientist with Savannah River National Laboratory, said she acquired the egg last July from the Hicksville Gregory Museum during a gem and mineral show at the end of another transaction when the curator casually mentioned he had one.

"My eyes lit up," she said.

The egg, found in Mongolia, is one of only six in the U.S., Jantzen said. The eggs are known to be from those dinosaurs because they were found in whole nests and some of the other eggs contained tiny skeletons that could be identified, she said. But that left the question of whether there was one inside this one. While there was a small hole in the shell, it wasn't big enough to allow whatever was inside to get out, Jantzen said.

The university turned to Augusta University and to Dr. James Rawson, chair of the Department of Radiology and Imaging, and Dr. Nathan Yanasak, a medical physicist and assistant professor of radiology and imaging, and their team. They used a CT scanner at the Children's Hospital of Georgia that has 256 detectors and can do 1,000 to 2,000 sub-millimeter thick image slices of an object that can then be reassembled into an extremely detailed picture, Rawson said.

But first was how to change the parameters for the scan from soft tissue to "something that is essentially a rock and try, and look inside the dinosaur egg," he said. There were actually 10-12 articles that proved helpful as researchers have tried to use the powerful new imaging technology to see inside things like dinosaur eggs, fossils and mummies, Yanasak said.

And while their work created an intricate, multicolored 3-D image of the egg that shows the contrast of the different materials on the surface, it failed to show anything like a skeleton inside, he said.

"Unfortunately, try as we might, we really didn't see much intact in the egg," he said.

That could be for a number of reasons, such as the egg was never fertilized, Yanasak said. The egg will be displayed as part of the center's collection of rocks, minerals and fossils.

"This is certainly a big piece of that, an important piece, and one that is going to stand out from the rest in many ways," Senn said.

 

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