Les Barr was playing in the ditch near his grandparents' home one day 25 years ago when he stumbled on what looks like a fossilized dinosaur egg.
Barr was only 10 years old in 1989 and he wasn’t able to convince anyone it might be a fossilized egg.
He took a chisel to the rock to crack it open, leaving a scar around the rock but had no luck opening it.
Barr put the rock away and hauled it out a couple years ago to show his children.
The rock captured their imagination; so much so that Barr’s daughter Jusslie entered the egg and its story in the Digby Elementary School Heritage Fair last week.
Jusslie’s project describes some of the other important fossil discoveries in Nova Scotia – scientists have found thousands of bones of the oldest dinosaur ever found in Canada near Parrsboro, and in the same area, the smallest dinosaur tracks ever found.
In 2012 a family walking their dog on a beach on the shores of Northumberland Strait found an almost-complete skeleton of a 300-million year-old dinosaur.
Her display board asks the question, “Is this the first fossilized dinosaur egg found in Nova Scotia?”
The rock is smooth and egg-shaped, if you will, and 23 centimetres long and 18 centimetres wide.
Jusslie did some research on the Internet and determined the egg is about the same size as a Sauropod egg which average around 30 cm long and 25 cm wide.
Sauropods lived about 150 million years ago. They had long necks and long tails, thick legs and relatively small heads and included some of the largest animals ever to walk the earth, like the Brontosaurus.
Their eggs were more round than oval though, according to Melissa Grey, curator of paleontology at the Joggins Fossil Centre.
Grey has not seen Barr’s rock first hand but she did look at photos of it and says it probably isn’t a fossilized egg.
“Sauropod eggs tend to be very round (like a ball) and the texture looks quite different,” she wrote in an email to the Courier. “It’s always a challenge to identify fossils from an image alone, but my initial impression is that this is not a fossil. Sometimes rocks can trick us because they can take on shapes that look like something biological – we call these pseudofossils.”
Grey also says that southwestern Nova Scotia has very few dinosaur-aged rocks.
The rock here was actually formed in a time period about 300 million years before the dinosaurs.
Our rock is mostly from the Cambrian Devonian periods – 500 to 400 millon years ago.
Dinosaurs roamed the earth in the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods – 65 to 200 million years ago.
Grey emphasized however that it’s worth asking for a second opinion.
Glenn Friel, spokesperson for the Nova Scotia Museum says any time anyone finds a rock they think is a fossil, it can be taken to the museum – either the Museum of Natural History in Halifax, the Fundy Geological Museum in Parrsboro or the Joggins Fossil Centre.
He says staff will gladly look at these items.
In fact, now, if you find something you think is a fossil, the Special Places Protection act means legally it belongs to the province.
People are not allowed to dig or disturb fossils in Nova Scotia without a permit.
Barr found his rock before the law was in effect.
Barr says he will probably let museum staff from the Nova Scotia museum have a first hand look.
“It’s worth a look,” he says. “The shape is so much like an egg to me but I’m no expert.”