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Antarctica: The origins of mysterious fossil dubbed 'The Thing' finally answered
Even though much has been discovered about the time when dinosaurs were inhabiting the Earth, the discoveries made over time serves as a reminder of how many other species have yet to be unearthed. One such example was a mysterious fossil found in the icy continent of Antarctica, in which scientists have referred to as “The Thing,” but recently finally determined this object’s origins.
The rock-like fossil that resembled a deflated rugby ball has puzzled paleontologists for years since it was first discovered in 2011. Paleontologists from Chile were the ones who discovered this unusual object, and as scientists scramble to figure out what exactly was the object, it remained on display in the country’s national museum of natural history. However, scientists were now able to determine where this fossil came from.
The researchers at the University of Texas made an analysis of the fossil and concluded that “The Thing,” is actually a soft-shell egg dating 66 million years ago. This is also the largest soft-shell egg to have been discovered, and this also becomes the first fossilized egg that was found in Antarctica. The findings were published in the journal Nature, where the researchers also concluded that the egg did not come from a dinosaur, but from a giant reptile.
According to the study’s lead author Lucas Legendre, the giant reptile would be around the same size as a large dinosaur, but it does not have the characteristics of a dinosaur egg. “It is most similar to the eggs of lizards and snakes, but it is truly from a giant relative of these animals,” said Legendre.
Onto a previous discovery, paleontologists at the Tanque Loma site in western Ecuador found fossilized remnants of sloths that were the size of elephants, also known as Panamerican ground sloths. The researchers found the bones of 15 adult sloths, five juvenile sloths, and two fetuses of the now-extinct species. These sloths are believed to have existed around 20,000 years ago in Ecuador and may have weighed a few tons as well as having the ability to walk on two legs compared to its descendants today.