Dinosaurs, like modern birds, produced enormous quantities of eggshell as part of the reproductive process. Sometimes this eggshell was fossilized but most commonly was destroyed by weathering. The degree to which bacteria may have contributed to this weathering process has not been explored. In this study, fresh glaucous-winged gull (Larus glaucescens) eggshell fragments were collected from the surface of a breeding colony in Washington, sterilized, and buried in sterile soil. The soil surrounding replicate experimental fragments was inoculated with a culture of one of five species of soil bacteria isolated from other eggshell fragments collected on the colony surface. Replicate control fragments received the same treatment minus the bacteria. Weekly changes in protein concentration and fragment mass, as well as in soil pH and calcium concentration, were measured for experimental and control fragments over 10 weeks. The presence of all five types of bacteria degraded the eggshell and produced corrosion patterns similar to those seen in naturally weathered eggshell. On the basis of the results we postulate that bacterial decomposition of the eggshell protein matrix produces organic acids, which, in turn, dissolve the CaCO3 of the shell. The dissolved CaCO3 and NH3 from protein degradation increase the pH of the surrounding sediment. These results and interpretations are discussed in view of dinosaur eggshell fossilization. This paper provides the first evidence that bacteria significantly impact eggshell preservation.
You have requested a machine translation of selected content from our databases. This functionality is provided solely for your convenience and is in no way intended to replace human translation. Neither BioOne nor the owners and publishers of the content make, and they explicitly disclaim, any express or implied representations or warranties of any kind, including, without limitation, representations and warranties as to the functionality of the translation feature or the accuracy or completeness of the translations.
Translations are not retained in our system. Your use of this feature and the translations is subject to all use restrictions contained in the Terms and Conditions of Use of the BioOne website.
Vol. 25 • No. 5