UPDATED for 2021 – This article was originally published on August 3rd, 2019. Updated now on October 27th, 2020. I have added new information on the factors that determine a dinosaur egg’s potential value and a Table of comparisons. Additionally, I’ve added valuable external source links, pictures of real dinosaur eggs, an additional YouTube video, and included links to articles on this website that may also of interest to you. It will increase your knowledge of dinosaur eggs and the value they have. Enjoy!
-Author & Editor, Michael Haralson
Dinosaurs have been given unprecedented attention ever since the release of the Jurassic Park movies in the 1990s. Not only that, paleontologists are using advanced scientific techniques such as CT Scans and drones to discover and enhance their understanding of dinosaur fossils. Our understanding of dinosaur has increased and evolved. Today, the remains of these prehistoric creatures, such as eggs, bones, and even the dung, are highly valued for their age, rarity, and aesthetics. With so many discoveries of dinosaur fossils and even fossilized dinosaur eggs, it makes me wonder, how much would a real dinosaur egg be worth?
So, what’s the value of a real dinosaur egg? Market values and availability constantly change, but a real dinosaur egg is worth about $500 to $2000, quickly increasing to $10,000 or more depending on certain factors. These seven factors are the type of dinosaur egg, its species, rarity, age, aesthetics, whether it is in a nest, and whether it contains a dinosaur embryo. Determining whether the dinosaur egg fossil is real in the first place is important in evaluating how much the egg would be worth. There are several ways to do this, ranging from sourcing dinosaur fossil eggs only from reputable dealers of fossils to even searching for them yourself.
Paleontologists have been finding dinosaur eggs for the past 150 years, with the first ones found in France and the latest discoveries (in 2020) in Spain and Argentina. During these past 150 years, there have been some fantastic egg fossil discoveries, such as those with whole embryos that are still intact and containing a fossilized baby dinosaur. It is changing the way paleontologists think about how dinosaurs reproduce and about their nesting habits.
These egg discoveries are adding evidence that most, if not all, dinosaurs laid eggs. Even the apex predator Tyrannosaurus Rex is suggested to have laid eggs. The recent discovery of a pregnant T. Rex (Source) supports this. Paleontologists have discovered nesting colonies of hadrosaurid dinosaurs that laid eggs. Additionally, they found multiple nests located together, indicating that dinosaurs may have nursed young dinosaurs after they hatched.
There are more fossil discoveries every year, and new knowledge also increases the value of fossil eggs. So the value of a real dinosaur egg can go much higher as we find more dinosaur eggs.
Read on to learn more about dinosaurs the real dinosaur egg value and I’ll cover the factors that determine the value, provide more understanding about dinosaur egg fossils, and how to identify a real dinosaur egg. Let’s get started.
Factors That Determine the Value of a Dinosaur Egg
It is completely understandable if you wonder just how much dinosaur eggs are worth, as the prices for different fossils vary. You should know that to acquire a real egg, you must have the means, which might run into hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Additionally, it is a good idea to determine if the fossil eggs can be sold to you, i.e., you will get the ownership rights. While an entire dinosaur fossil might cost several million dollars, dinosaur eggs cost less.
Several factors determine what a real dinosaur egg is worth. I will cover seven of them, discuss the bigger picture of how fossilized dinosaur eggs compare to other dinosaur fossils, and give some guidelines on how you can buy a fossilized egg.
The Seven Key Factors for Determining Worth of a Dinosaur Egg
Here is a list of the seven key factors and determinants of how much an egg is worth:
● Age – The older an egg is, the more expensive it is likely to be. Very old eggs enable paleontologists to research the earliest species of dinosaurs that have lived on earth. There may be a big price difference between a 66 million-year-old egg (from the Cretaceous period) and a 125 million-year-old egg (Jurassic period). The oldest dinosaur egg fossils have been found in South Africa. (Source)
● Rarity – How rare a dinosaur egg fossil is will dramatically increase the value. A dinosaur egg by itself is amazing to have lasted so many million years. However, the uniqueness of a dinosaur egg that was in a nest together with its mother’s fossilized dinosaur skeleton is extremely rare, such as with the Citipati discovery (Source) in Mongolia. Most likely, a T. Rex fossil egg, if one is ever discovered, would be a rare fossil, indeed.
● Type – there are three category types of dinosaur eggs that paleontologists recognize, based on the eggshell structure. Interestingly, it links to the type of dinosaur that laid the egg as well. They are:
—Spherulitic – which are spheric in shape and attributed to hadrosaurs and sauropods
—Prismatic – which are prismatic in shape
—Ornithoid – which is bird-egg like in shape and attributed to theropods, which also include modern birds
● Dinosaur Species – Some dinosaurs species are more popular or rare than others, impacting a dinosaur egg’s cost. For simplification, we can divide dinosaurs into two groups, the carnivores, or meat-eating dinosaurs, and the herbivores, or plant-eating dinosaurs (there are also omnivores and piscivores, but we will exclude these this time). Carnivores are dinosaurs like T. Rex, Giganotosaurus, and Allosaurus. Herbivore dinosaurs include the long neck sauropods such as Diplodocus, Brachiosaurus, and Apatosaurus. Oviraptorids are from China and Mongolia, such as Citipati.
● Embryo – with or without it – If the dinosaur egg contains a fossilized embryo in it that shows a fossilized baby dinosaur, the value increases substantially. Paleontologists have found eggs with embryos intact and re-examined eggs that found dinosaur embryos after a CT scan.
● Individual Egg or a Clutch of Eggs – There is a big difference in the dinosaur egg price if you are buying just one egg or a clutch of eggs (eggs laid that were laid together or in the same nest), and naturally, the value would be greater if in a clutch. Famous clutches and dinosaur eggs have been discovered in Mongolia, North America, China, and Argentina. The dinosaur species that the clutches of eggs belonged to were Maiasaurus, Protoceratops, and Therizinosaurus.
● Aesthetics (how the egg looks like) – This factor can be subjective, but surprisingly it can impact the price and value of a dinosaur egg. Aesthetics of the egg’s overall appearance, whether it is smooth or whether it is cracked, and if there are many pieces of dinosaur eggshell missing, can affect the value.
Comparison of Value with Other Dinosaur Fossils
There are many types of dinosaur fossils besides eggs:
● Complete skeletons – these are the most expensive of all fossils, ranging from a minimum of $100,000 to over $8 million. For instance, the skeleton named “Sue,” a 90% complete tyrannosaurus rex skeleton, was bought for $8.36 million at an auction in 1997, a record price for a dinosaur skeleton. Recently (September 2020), this record was eclipsed by the auction of the T. Rex “Stan,” which sold for $31.8 million.
● Dinosaur skulls – range from about $25,000 to $100,000.
● Individual dinosaur bones – the range is from tens to thousands of dollars or more for thigh bones, claws, and other parts of the dinosaur skeleton.
● Fossilized teeth – the range is from $20 to a midrange of $2000. I wrote a full article just on the topic of fossilized teeth. Check it out if you are interested – What’s the Value of a Real Dinosaur Tooth (Single, On Jawbone)?
● Fossilized coprolite (dinosaur dung) – the least expensive type of dinosaur fossil is coprolite or fossilized dinosaur dung. It’s more decorative than it sounds and usually costs about $20 to $50.
Can You Buy a Dinosaur Egg?
Scientists and paleontologists, and the general public, have differing views on the purchasing of fossils. Some countries, for instance, Mongolia and China, have strict rules and laws in place for the export of fossils. It is always best to know the Law and whether ownership of a dinosaur egg fossil is legally possible. Besides determining how much is a dinosaur egg worth, there is also the scientific value that should be considered too.
Dealers who belong to the American Association of Paleontological Suppliers support ethical collecting practices and cooperation with the scientific community. Although they won’t tell you for certain how much is a dino egg worth, they may give you an idea if it is a real dinosaur egg based on where it was found. Reputable dealers can also be found through local fossil clubs and collectors’ associations.
If you want to read more about this topic, check out my article on this website: Can You Buy and Own a Dinosaur Bone? The Law vs. the Science
Are There Real Dinosaur Eggs? What Are They Like? Understanding Dinosaur Eggs
The more you know about dinosaur eggs, the better you can appreciate its value. As I have covered above, different dinosaur species laid eggs, and paleontologists have found real dinosaur eggs – individual eggs and egg clutches – in many countries worldwide.
Scientists have not found eggs from every dinosaur species, but from the eggs found, they have summarized that in a lot of cases, herbivore dinosaurs laid round eggs (or oval), and carnivores laid elongated eggs.
To better understand the different dinosaur eggs discovered, let’s look at some of the amazing discoveries.
YouTube Video About the Largest Dinosaur Eggs on Record
How Big Was the Biggest Dinosaur Egg? What is the Size of a Dinosaur Egg?
The sizes and shapes of dinosaur eggs vary from being round to oblong and even elongated. It’s difficult to determine actual sizes as the thickness of the eggshell is not always clear. Here are some interesting facts about dinosaur egg sizes:
● Largest dinosaur eggs – the largest dinosaur eggs are considered to be laid by sauropods. One of the first and largest is the Hypselosaurus dinosaur eggs from France.
● Smallest dinosaur eggs – An egg found in Japan is considered to be the smallest dinosaur eggs found. http://www.geologyin.com/2020/08/fossilized-dinosaur-egg-found-in-japan.html
● First dinosaur eggs – the first eggs were discovered in France in 1859 and were also the first fossil specimens to be scientifically accepted as dinosaur eggs. (Source)
● Soft-shell dinosaur eggs – the first dinosaur eggs are thought to have been soft-shelled, leathery instead of hard. These are comparable to modern-day turtle, lizards, and snakes that lay soft eggs.
● Hard-shell dinosaur eggs – Dinosaurs such as sauropods are considered to have laid hard-shelled eggs and represent the dinosaur egg fossils that have been found.
Where Are Real Dinosaur Eggs Found?
Dinosaur eggs have been found worldwide, and there are over 200 documented discoveries from all different dinosaur species. Interestingly, scientists have a classification even for dinosaur eggs, called parataxonomy (Source). Although there are many discoveries of dinosaur eggs, it’s not always possible to match the dinosaur that laid them and this classification helps to match them. (Source)
In the table below, I list dinosaur egg discoveries and compare where they were found and potential value. In the first column I list the dinosaur species and in the second I list where the dinosaur eggs were found. In the third column I list the potential value (high, medium or low) and in the fourth and fifth column I list whether the eggs are singular or multiple and they type of dinosaur (herbivore or carnivore). It’s interesting to notice that dinosaur eggs have been found on many continents.
Table 1 - Comparison of Dinosaurs, Their Eggs, and Value
|Dinosaur Name||Where Dino Eggs Found||Value Level||Singular or Multiple||Herbivore or Carnivore|
|Protoceratops||Gobi Desert, Mongolia||Medium||Multiple||Herbivore|
|Oviraptor||Gobi Desert, Mongolia||High||Multiple||Herbivore|
|Therizinosaurus||Gobi Desert, Mongolia||High||Multiple||Herbivore|
|Dinosaur Name||Where Dino Eggs Found||Value Level||Singular or Multiple||Herbivore or Carnivore|
Some of the key places where paleontologists have found fossilized dinosaur eggs or clutches of eggs are:
● Argentina – fossilized eggs were found, and it was laid by Mussaurus, a long-necked, plant-eating dinosaur.
● North America – One of the most famous dinosaur nesting grounds in the US are found in Montana, where Maiasaurus dinosaur eggs and clutches have been discovered.
● China – Thousands of eggs have been discovered in the city of Heyuan. Scientists suggest that they are laid by an oviraptor dinosaur Heyuannia huangi as multiple fossil skeletons have also been found close to the egg fossils. (Source)
● France – The first scientifically recognized eggs were found in France in 1859. The dinosaur eggs were Hypselosaurus eggs, a Jurassic period sauropod.
● Mongolia – The Citipati, an oviraptor dinosaur, have been found next to clutches of eggs. The Citipati fossils were found in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. Other eggs found in Mongolia belonged to Protoceratops and included the embryo intact showing fossilized baby dinosaurs. The Gobi Desert also holds the amazing discovery of 17 clutches of dinosaur eggs that belong to the Therizinosaurus, the dinosaur with the long claws. If you want to know more about this amazing dinosaur, check out my article What Was the Herbivore Dinosaur with Long Claws? Some Surprising Facts
YouTube Video – Showing Rare Dinosaur Eggs Found in Nest
New Dinosaur Egg Discoveries in 2020
Here are a few fossilized dinosaur egg discoveries that have been in the news:
● Argentina Sauropod Embryo – Scientists have found that a previously discovered egg in Argentina belonged to a sauropod dinosaur contains a full-intact embryo, which also shows horns on the skull. Scientists think this could be a beak tooth used to help the baby dinosaur break out of the egg. (Source)
● Spain – The discovery of a clutch of titanosaur sauropod dinosaur eggs have been found in Spain, and it is said to contain up to 25 sauropod dinosaur eggs, the first in this region. (Source)
Related Fossils and Dinosaur Articles You Might Also Be Interested In:
Learn How Dinosaur Eggs Are Fossilized And Identified
Why Some Dinosaur Bones Last So Long
Can You Buy and Own a Dinosaur Bone? The Law vs the Science
How Do You Know If You Found a Dinosaur Egg?
If you want to buy a real dinosaur egg or you want actually to join an expedition and search for dinosaur eggs, there are some things that you can do to determine if they are real and estimate the value.
How to Identify Real Dinosaur Eggs So You Can Evaluate the Value
With the high demand and big money at stake, illicit trade in fakes and black-market bones has emerged in recent years. These fakes often originate in China or Morocco, though both countries yield large amounts of legitimate material. Fakes are also popular at auctions and online.
Because trade in dinosaur fossils is a market based on scientific knowledge, fossil collectors who don’t know about fossils can be easily tricked.
So here are some things you can do to help determine if the egg fossil you have found or are planning to buy is genuine:
To the untrained eye, a collection of fossilized eggs might as well be a pile of pebbles. Even for the professionals, identifying real dinosaur eggs might get pretty confusing. So, how do you make sure that what you have is actually the real deal?
● The first thing to ask when determining if you have found real dinosaur eggs is the location. Dinosaur fossils can only turn up in particular rock formations in certain areas around the world. Using data from the Paleontology Database Interactive map can show you everywhere on Earth where dinosaur fossils have been found.
● Real dinosaur eggs usually have an easily identifiable shell which differs significantly from the enclosed sediments either by having fine surface ornamentation or a specific type of crystalline structure in cross-section.
● The thickness of the fossilized eggs should be roughly uniform, they are usually slightly curved, and their surface is covered in tiny pores to facilitate gas exchange. To confirm the pores, take a magnifying glass over the “shell” and see if you can see the pores. If the shell is too thick and you can’t find any pores, you will most likely be looking at a rock.
● Also, because eggshell tends to be brittle, the shell is almost always heavily cracked. Ironically, if the fossilized eggs are like that of modern birds, it most likely won’t be a real dinosaur egg.
● As a last resort, you can confirm your fossilized egg by licking it. By just taking a quick tip of your tongue on the egg, you can identify whether what you have is real or not. Fossilized dinosaur eggs are expected to stick to the tongue slightly. A fossil will be stickier than an ordinary rock because of its porous nature.
How To Spot Fake Dinosaur Eggs and Ask an Expert for Help
If you live near a natural history museum or a university with a paleontology department, a curator or a professional paleontologist might be willing to look at your discovery. It might take the professional weeks or months to get around to looking at your pictures or the “egg” itself before telling you whether it was the real deal or not.
First, the best way to avoid fake eggs is to go and collect them yourself, that way the fossilized egg worth can be certain. However, always make sure to follow the laws and have permission to collect before proceeding. In the United States, typically, a good way to follow the Law is through collecting private land with expressed permission from the landowner.
Views of paleontologists do range on private ownership of fossils, with many not condoning or endorsing. However, if you are going to buy, do everything possible to ensure the egg or any fossil was legally collected.
Often with fake eggs, everything seems too perfect. Eggs are delicate and easily crushed or damaged, so if there are no signs of any damage or natural alterations, be very wary. If the surface has ridges, check to see those ridges continue across a crack or break of the shell.
Many fake eggs are mosaics made up of real eggshell fragments assembled in an egg shape. These mosaics tend not to have the eggshell match on opposite sides of a crack.
It’s amazing that dinosaur eggs laid during the Mesozoic era still exist in fossilized form after so many millions of years.
Determining what would a real dinosaur egg be worth, as discussed, takes into consideration many factors. Interestingly, with modern technology, paleontologists are finding even more information about dinosaur eggs discovered decades ago using CT scans and X-rays equipment.
We never know what the next year will bring in terms of new fossil discoveries, and I keep waiting to hear that someone has found a T. Rex egg! That would be something!