‘We had the egg in the storage for 30 years’

Thursday 12 Jan 2023

There is a good chance that the Oertijdmuseum has a fossil dinosaur embryo. And that is very rare, since the very limited number of these fossils in the world, says director René Fraaije: ,,Unique in the Netherlands, perhaps in Europe!”
According to the curator of the Oertijdmuseum Jonathan Wallaard, it is fairly certain that there is a dinosaur embryo in the egg. “It’s a closed egg. What else could it be?” The Oertijdmuseum is getting ready for many extra visitors. The egg will be exhibited in a display case until it leaves for further research abroad. The museum also owns more than 100 other dinosaur eggs. Wallaard also wants these to be investigated for potentially interesting content.
It is remarkable that the egg has been ‘in the cabinet of the Oertijdmuseum’ for thirty years. “It comes from China and was already purchased when we were still in the old museum on Sint-Lambertusweg. Our junior curator Maarten de Rijke was appointed here in October, and he has already achieved this result”, Fraaije exults.
The newly appointed employee is in the national news these days. Just about all broadcasters turned out with camera teams yesterday. That’s because the alleged embryo from the Oertijdmuseum was scanned in the Jeroen Bosch Hospital. According to the museum director, it is 70 million years old and belongs to a Hadrosaurus, a herbivore that was about seven to nine meters long. “We have a total of three eggs in which remains have been found. But in one of them petrified pieces are most clearly present.” In ‘young’ eggs, the bone remains often decay because they are still too soft to fossilize. With an egg that is about to hatch, the chance of finding remains is greater because the bones are more mature. The Oertijdmuseum is now having the dinosaur spawn investigated further in France. Fraaije: ,,We take them to the particle accelerator in Grenoble, the Synchroton.
There the content can be scanned in much more detail than in Den Bosch. This way we can discover whether there is still a head or a spine in it. Hopefully it can tell us more about the growth of dinosaurs.” The scan in the particle accelerator does cost a few pennies, says Fraaije. “But you can get a subsidy for that. Then the application must be well substantiated. That’s what we’re working on right now. I expect a decision within a few months.”