Dinosaur eggs are always a topic that’s fun to talk about. Everyone loves dinosaurs, and if you don’t, you’re wrong. On a more serious note, dinosaur reproduction has been subject to some debate among paleontological circles. However, it has been generally accepted until now that dinosaurs laid hard-shelled eggs like those of birds. Recent microscopic research conducted by scientists from Yale, among others, has concluded that this is not true and that at least some dinosaurs laid soft-shelled eggs.
The researchers did not examine all dinosaurs taxa or even all the dinosaur eggs that are available. Instead, they focused on two dinosaurs: Protoceratops and Mussaurus. Protoceratops is a small member of the triceratops kind while Mussaurus is what is referred to as a sauropodomorph. The evolutionists believe this lineage is ancestral to sauropods. Both of these taxa are believed to be ancestral to later dinosaurs in the evolutionist paradigm.
By examining the morphology and chemical structure of these eggshells, then conducting statistical tests, these researchers concluded that the eggshells were most similar to existing soft-shell eggs. From this conclusion, the researchers speculated that the first dinosaurs laid soft-shelled eggs. This conclusion forced them to speculate that the origin of hard-shelled egg-laying evolved at least three separate times in dinosaurs alone, increasing the unlikelihood of evolution occurring….again.
Interestingly, this discovery is not the first time it has been proposed that an extinct reptile had soft-shelled eggs. It was reported in 2004 that a Pterosaur egg had been found with both soft-tissue preservation, and with enough detail on the egg that it was possible to determine that the egg was soft. Also this year, it was reported that a separate study had found that the marine reptiles also laid soft-shelled eggs
There are of course potential issues. The first issue relates to diet. Even today birds, which normally lay hard-shelled eggs, will lay soft-shelled eggs under certain conditions. The primary one is lack of calcium in their diet. Calcium is required to properly build a hard eggshell. If mother birds do not get enough calcium, they will produce a soft eggshell. This is not the only issue, however. Sometimes, when under deep stress, the mother will lay an egg that has not been calcified. Basically, she is just trying to get the egg laid so that the offspring have a chance of survival.
Regardless of the potential issues, I think there is a paradigm shift afoot here. With the advent of microscopy and these new forms of imaging, we are able to determine, with much greater detail, the makeup of things like eggs. While two dinosaurs is hardly a definitive study, the fact that pterosaurs and extinct marine reptiles have also been postulated to have soft-shelled eggs is telling. I would expect that, eventually, the entire evolutionary community will come around to this way of thinking. It may take a while, as some members of the community probably will die before changing their view, but I suspect it will get there with time.
How then should creationists view these developments? Frankly, I think the soft-shell hypothesis is a gift to creationists. It establishes an even broader break between birds and dinosaurs, making it harder for people to believe the myth that dinosaurs evolved into birds. However, even if the hypothesis is wrong and all dinosaurs had hard-shelled eggs, it will not affect a creationist model. There are still far too many morphological and anatomical differences between birds and dinosaurs for evolution to leap that chasm. Before I jump on the soft-shelled train however, I would like to see more studies done. Four types of eggs examined is a good start, but there are hundreds of genera of dinosaurs, not to mention Pterosaurs and marine reptiles. More data is needed and I suspect it will be forthcoming.
Regardless of which way the science ends up falling on this, creationists can be secure in the fact that preserving eggs, whether hard or soft shells, requires rapid burial in anoxic conditions, with access to mineral-rich water. Such conditions fit much better with a Flood in the days of Noah than they do with either the asteroid hypothesis or any other alternative hypothesis that the scientific community has presented.
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