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CT scan of dinosaur eggs


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I talked about this elsewhere but so everyone has a chance to view it, here is a video showing a CT scan we (TMDC) did of a jacket with 5 eggs. The eggs are currently unknown and likely new, the main goal of the scan was to help determine if there are any embryonic remains inside. CT scans often are not ideal for showing bone so what we looked for were teeth since they tend to show up better in a scan and develop at a relatively early stage. Happy to answer any questions people may have about this.
 


 

A local news story on the scan:


http://www.choteauacantha.com/news/article_623de0fe-be6f-11e7-84df-5363c8eab191.html

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Interesting, thanks.  Any reason to think this clutch contained remains?

Were you able to determine if any remains were in the eggs using other methods?  

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There a few reasons, one, any egg can have remains, unlikely but it is possible, second, the Two Medicine Fm. has a relatively high proportion of eggs containing embryos or recently hatched individuals, for example Troodon and Maiasaura. Third, embryonic remains are vital for an actual animal ID as I talked about with my other post, so any chance of them being present must be investigated. One dig participant did find what they thought was an embryonic bone, however this does not appear to actually be the case. In addition to looking for embryonic material the scan gives us information on the infill, the true shape of the eggs, and reveals anything which could otherwise not be seen within them, sometimes insects can be found near an egg for example.  We may try a more powerful X-ray to gain a better view of the inside. A CT was nice and easy since the local clinic was willing to provide us access, it gave us a starting point and a great deal of additional information. 

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Extremely interesting, thanks for sharing! Is this type of thing becoming more common? I’ve always wondered why it hasn’t, as it can reveal so much. I’ve always just assumed the costs were prohibitive.

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Happy to share, and I think scans are becoming more common however the results are rarely shared with the public which makes them seen far less common than they actually are. It does indeed reveal so much and most importantly is non-destructive. I could not tell you what the cost might be, the scans we did, there were several plus this one were at no cost. Every scan I have been involved with was done without a fee. Not sure if it would go the same way for amateurs, we simply just ask the hospital or clinic for their help with the research via a scan and they often say yes. 

Edited by CBchiefski
Typo
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Thanks for the above replies.  What are done with eggs that contain embones/teeth?  Any effort taken to remove any of the contents for study.

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15 hours ago, Troodon said:

Thanks for the above replies.  What are done with eggs that contain embones/teeth?  Any effort taken to remove any of the contents for study.

I have yet to be involved with an egg which had teeth or other embryonic remains however if something along those lines showed up in the scan then the next step would be a much more powerful scan. If it still looked like embryonic remains we might seriously consider removing the closest spot of the shell to actually look inside. Destructive analysis methods should only be done as a last resort and when there are other samples so data is not lost. In this case, we do have many other eggs and since remains tend to be concentrated in one area of the egg, it would likely be close to one area of the shell. You would want to start with an already existing crack and slowly remove each piece of eggshell, ideally without destroying the shell itself. Next prep away the internals till you find whatever showed up in the scan. Odds are it is not embryonic remains but rather a rock or piece of eggshell which ended up inside the egg. That said, sometimes it is embryonic remains and then you are able to link the egg and the dinosaur who laid it. I know that was long, but it is not a process often covered.

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Well I hope you run into this problem sooner than later.  Embryonic material would be awesome to find.  

 

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11 hours ago, Troodon said:

Well I hope you run into this problem sooner than later.  Embryonic material would be awesome to find.  

 

Me too, I would love to have that problem. After working with enough eggs clutches perhaps I will find that one egg with remains.

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HamptonsDoc

I took about half a dozen eggs from my collection to work and put them through the CT scanner and had similar results. Very difficult to tell what it is you’re looking at. Saw a few cracks and some heterogeneous densities but nothing recognizable to me or to a few of my radiologist friends. The CT I used is currently the most powerful type for medical use around. A radiologist suggested that industrial CT scanners used to image airplane engines may be a better modality to penetrate these fossils than medical grade machines. 

 

I’ll see if I can upload and post my results on the forum since they are interesting to look at! 

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HamptonsDoc

Couldn’t get the entire scan to upload since it’s too big for the forum but here are some of the images...

 

Maybe someone can figure what, if anything, we are looking at! I’m assuming just back fill of matrix. 

 

Hadrosaur egg pair egg 1

2D92C67F-4DDC-40D7-A5A9-D0163AFC8812.thumb.jpeg.4fefa4753e9badcbb2201a4fa453fcff.jpeg

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That's awesome and very cool that you could do that.  Imagine if you saw a pile of bones in one of these eggs.  :o. How long were they in there for? 

Looking forward to hear from CBchiefski

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HamptonsDoc
18 minutes ago, Troodon said:

That's awesome and very cool that you could do that.  Imagine if you saw a pile of bones in one of these eggs.  :o. How long were they in there for? 

Looking forward to hear from CBchiefski

Each scan takes about 10 seconds, maybe a little longer depending on how close together you set the machine to take the slices. The computer software then takes the images (esentialy a bunch of X-rays) and can reconstruct them together to form a series and then can even make 3D models. Other modalities, like MRI, take much longer to gather images but will not be able to see the fossils. MRI uses giant magnets to change the polarity of water molecules within cells to form images and fossils do not contain water. CT and XRay uses radiation and can image anything. 

 

I was was hoping to see a nice femur or something recognizable but I don’t think that’s the case!

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HamptonsDoc

A little off topic but here’s a keichiosaur I X-Rayed. 

 

73D4D7CB-7E99-4D9B-A58D-265ECCFD98C4.thumb.jpeg.97290094bcbdb1bf79cc9d5ed5e1a85e.jpeg

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2 hours ago, HamptonsDoc said:

I took about half a dozen eggs from my collection to work and put them through the CT scanner and had similar results. Very difficult to tell what it is you’re looking at. Saw a few cracks and some heterogeneous densities but nothing recognizable to me or to a few of my radiologist friends. The CT I used is currently the most powerful type for medical use around. A radiologist suggested that industrial CT scanners used to image airplane engines may be a better modality to penetrate these fossils than medical grade machines. 

 

I’ll see if I can upload and post my results on the forum since they are interesting to look at! 

Wonderful stuff to see, yes it can be hard to make out what is in the scan and only by viewing scans with bone or teeth can one get an idea of what to look for. You are spot on when it comes to medical vs industrial CT equipment. The more powerful scan I was referencing that we might use if something were potentially present is at UC Berkeley, it is not a CT scanner perse in so much as it shoots a very focused beam much like a laser through the object and gives a highly detailed view of it. This only works for a small area but bones would be within a relatively small area inside an egg so should be doable. I could not began to explain the physics behind such a scan, just that wow does it give results. 

If possible, I would love to talk with you about perhaps using a file sharing service or something of the sort to view the actual scans, I know how large they can get haha . Cannot promise anything of course, however I would be happy to review the scans as it also gives me more practice.

If nothing else I will say the shapes for all your eggs seem correct given your ID, and getting at the true shape is important.
 

1 hour ago, HamptonsDoc said:

Unknown American egg from Two Medicine Formation

 

E9CC0E0F-1D7F-49DD-8EF0-67CFCCCBD116.thumb.jpeg.149238ca4b2dc6451e53cff76ece43c1.jpeg

 

@Troodon @CBchiefski @-Andy- @Seguidora-de-Isis

We should talk about this scan though, of the pictures posted, this one looks interesting. It could just be due to them being a single slice but it seems like an odd pattern of infill from what I can see.

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Seguidora-de-Isis
4 hours ago, HamptonsDoc said:

Unknown American egg from Two Medicine Formation

 

@Troodon @CBchiefski @-Andy- @Seguidora-de-Isis

 

 

Thank you so much for calling me here so that I can contemplate this greats wonders my great friend HamptonsDoc!

 

With a little imagination, it can be cranial material, femur and some hip bones...

 

image.png.b3cd1ba3dbd753ac05e84918ae0db907.png

 

But the truth is that these supposed bones can also be anything else.

 

But in my opinion there is something very positive with the use of CT, because if it is difficult to distinguish what each bone really is, at least one can be sure or not of the existence of embryonic remains within each egg... As for example, this your egg here that seems to me quite promising:

 

image.png.636257b99784c3f7eb6eb43e94a6df20.png

 

And since thanks to the CT already has certainty of the existence of embryonic remains inside an egg, then one can give space to other types of technologies... Like for example, the pioneering technology that uses a dilute acetic acid solution that corrodes matrix in a few thousandths of an inch a day!

 

image.png.176a7260d2d105128fc605e199d795ab.png

 

We are still just crawling on all this, and in the future we will have even better technologies and we will know much more about all it.

 

I thank you so much for sharing with us all this news! :D

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, CBchiefski said:

We should talk about this scan though, of the pictures posted, this one looks interesting. It could just be due to them being a single slice but it seems like an odd pattern of infill from what I can see.

Could be voids. 

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13 minutes ago, WhodamanHD said:

Could be voids. 

While not impossible this is highly unlikely, eggshell is brittle by its nature and so often cracks, these cracks allow whatever sediments are surrounding to fill in the egg and depending on how recent it was laid, allow the amniotic sac and other fluids to drain out.

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Here is a paper by Dr. Varricchio who is a true eggspert and my advisor, the research relied a great deal on the CT scan of an egg: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0128458

If you just want to jump through the paper and see the bones show up in a scan: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0128458#sec005
 

1 hour ago, Seguidora-de-Isis said:

Thank you so much for calling me here so that I can contemplate this greats wonders my great friend HamptonsDoc!

 

With a little imagination, it can be cranial material, femur and some hip bones...

 

image.png.b3cd1ba3dbd753ac05e84918ae0db907.png

 

But the truth is that these supposed bones can also be anything else.

 

But in my opinion there is something very positive with the use of CT, because if it is difficult to distinguish what each bone really is, at least one can be sure or not of the existence of embryonic remains within each egg... As for example, this your egg here that seems to me quite promising:

 

And since thanks to the CT already has certainty of the existence of embryonic remains inside an egg, then one can give space to other types of technologies... Like for example, the pioneering technology that uses a dilute acetic acid solution that corrodes matrix in a few thousandths of an inch a day!

 

We are still just crawling on all this, and in the future we will have even better technologies and we will know much more about all it.

 

I thank you so much for sharing with us all this news! :D

 

A very good eye to notice those, they are part of what got my interest peaked as well. Am thinking it is just an odd pattern of infill like I said but then again, the shape is not too far from bone.

I agree CT is a wonderful tool, not perfect but I much prefer it to cutting each egg in half. It will be eggciting to see what other new tech allows us to better look inside!

Not sure if the callouts are working so just going to put them in again, sorry if I end up spamming you guys, just want to make sure you see this post.
@Seguidora-de-Isis
@-Andy-
@Troodon
@WhodamanHD
@HamptonsDoc

@Troodon @CBchiefski @-Andy- @Seguidora-de-Isis

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HamptonsDoc

A general rule with CT imaging is that air appears black and the material that is most dense is white.  The person who found this egg told me when I purchased it that there were a few cracks that he filled- I suspect that the black areas on the images above, while suggestive in shape of bone, are air pockets. 

 

 

** Addendum **

Now that I watch the video attached to the paper posted above I question if black in fossils is the same as black in the human body (the CTs I’m used to reading). The attached video makes it look like the black is the material they focused in on for the 3D rendering. 

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I was wondering if you have seen any evidence of endoliths in the egg? I remember hearing about them being found in China.

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