March 18, 2014
By AKIKO MINATO/ Staff Writer
KATSUYAMA, Fukui Prefecture--Researchers say they have found the world’s oldest fossilized bird eggshells--120 million years old--that could provide insight into how dinosaurs evolved.
“We’ve now got a clue into ascertaining the mating process of species that were evolving into modern birds,” said Yoichi Azuma, 64, one of the researchers and a professor of paleontology at Fukui Prefectural University’s Dinosaur Research Institute. “(The fossilized eggshells) will help us figure out how bird ancestors laid eggs and to clearly identify differences between their eggs and ones of present species.”
The three fossil eggshells, ranging in size from 2 by 2 millimeters to 6 by 6 mm, were discovered within a fist-sized mudstone near a geological layer dating back to the early Cretaceous Period around 120 million years ago, according to the researchers.
The stone was unearthed in 1990 in Katsuyama.