What happened to dinosaur eggs that were either abandoned or broke prematurely? You might think that this is a question that is impossible to answer, but dinosaur eggs have been discovered with intriguing evidence of scavenging of many forms. By studying the remains of organisms that are preserved in preserved dinosaur eggs paleontologists have discovered compelling evidence that a complex ecology existed during the time of the dinosaurs.
There are thousands of insects and other organisms that specialize in feeding on the eggs of reptiles and birds today. Insects and other animals are attracted to old or broken eggs either to feed on the eggs themselves or to act as predators on some of these feeders. One of the most complex relationships involves parasitic wasps that lay eggs on the back, or inside, of spiders or other insects. When their eggs hatch the larva burrow into the host and consume them from the inside eventually using their carcasses to make cocoons which eventually will produce another generation of adult wasps. All of this happens in the eggs themselves over a period of weeks as the eggs are consumed.
Not long ago a very interesting fossilized dinosaur egg was found in Patagonia that suggests these very complex relationships between eggs, insects and wasps existed at the time the dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Here is the abstract from the paper by Genise and Sarzette entitled “Fossil cocoons associated with a dinosaur egg from Patagonia, Argentina:”
Abstract: Eight fossil (Cretaceous) insect cocoons were discovered within the infillings of a broken dinosaur egg of a clutch from a Patagonian locality. Cocoons are considered to be in situ based on detailed preservation of thin, delicate walls with surface texture, infillings that are similar to the surrounding rock matrix and the clustered distribution of cocoons in only one egg out of the clutch of five eggs. According to the shape, size, and thin wall with surface texture, the cocoons are interpreted as having been produced by wasps. The wasps may have been attracted to the egg because of the presence of scavenging insects feeding on the decaying organic matter, or they may have been attracted to spiders feeding on the scavenging insects. In either scenario, after attacking the insects or spiders inside the sand infillings of the egg, the wasp larvae produced the cocoons described herein. The presence of wasps, which are at the top of the scavenging food webs, suggests that a complex community of invertebrates would have developed around rotten dinosaur eggs.
These fossilized cocoons inside a preserved broken dinosaur egg provide a glimpse into the ecology of the time when this egg was laid. Fossils such as this one are very helpful because they provide us with a glimpse of the behavior of past life on Earth. I found this particular fossil interesting for another reason: it shows, once again, that young earth creationist’s models of Earth’s history are far too simplistic to be considered a valid hypotheses.
Yet Another Challenge to Young Earth Creationist’ Flood Geology Models
This fossil illustrates and supports an observation I made a year ago about preserved dinosaur nests in two posts: Juvenile Dinosaur Fossils in a Next: Testimony to Rapid Burial but not by a Flood and Fossil Eggs, Nests, Floods and Stressed Pregnant Dinosaurs. In these I noted that dinosaur nests from Mongolia were found in layers of rock sitting on top of 20,000 feet of layers fossil-bearing rock. To explain how this could happen young earth creationists have had to result to some very creative story telling. They must explain how dinosaurs could have been roaming the Earth’s surface after 20,000 feet of sediments below their feet had deposited in global flood just a few days or weeks earlier. They claim (see prior posts for references) that pregnant dinosaurs which had been treading water and running up mountains to escape the global calamity wandered, during some lull in the chaotic global catastrophe, onto layers or newly deposited sediments. This time was so stressful for these dinosaurs that they sought out any place they could lay their eggs. Apparently, there were tens or even hundreds of thousands of these stressed pregnant dinosaurs that escaped the initial onslaught of the global deluge and were running around desperately making nests and laying eggs during this time.
Soon after laying these eggs, their nest and eggs, were covered by the continuing global events that eventually killed all the dinosaurs, except those preserved on the ark, and covered over the nests with fresh sediments allowing them to be preserved and eventually discovered by us today.
As implausible as this scenario painted by YECs might sound, their hypothesis is rendered utterly implausible when the physical evidence from dinosaur nests, such as the one above, are considered. Young earth creationists paint a picture of half-crazed dinosaurs running around to escape the next giant wave washing new layers of sediments over the world and laying nests in barren sand layers and then running off to try to find higher ground. What we find in this nest contradicts everything about this explanation.
Here we find a well-organized preserved nest in which one of the broken eggs has cocoons preserved in it. How did the cocoons get there? We can very reasonably conclude they came from wasps living on organisms that were scavenging the eggs. How did these scavenging insects find this nest during this crazy flooding event in this barren environment? On top of that, how does a tiny parasitic wasp survive the harrowing rains storms and water covering the earth and find itself where not only a dinosaur has laid its eggs but there is also a collection of insects they can infect? I might also add that today most parasitic wasps specialize on a particular species of insect or spider as its host and if this is the case in the past then what we have here is an incredible set of coincidences that all these members of this ecological unit are found together in one location in the middle of a chaotic world-wide catastrophe. One would not expect the maintenance of complex ecological relationships to be maintained in the middle of a disaster and yet we see evidence of that in these eggs.
There are far more reasonable explanations for the preservation of cocoons in dinosaurs eggs that don’t include a global flood. YECs often promote their view as being the best explanation for the geological features of the Earth and the fossil record. However, over and over again, a close inspection of the evidence shows that the YEC hypothesis is nothing more than an artificial construct with no explanatory power. It exists solely to maintain a specific, apparently infallible, interpretation by Ken Ham and others of the Bible.