Sixty round eggs from China, part of the Dinosaur Egg and Embryo Project, have been soaking in weak acid for months. Manning and his colleagues believe three different dinosaur species may be represented in this collection, but only time will tell.

“I was very excited the first time I found bone,” Manning recalls, “and even after examining hundreds of eggs, I am never certain what will be revealed, bones or something else. It happened again only a few weeks ago. A large piece of shell came away revealing a bone underneath. Instant gratification! However, for the most part it takes a week or two before seeing anything, and even then it is difficult to make any sense of it.”

When bones are uncovered, Manning saturates them with liquid plastic. Were he only to cover them, trapped gases inside tiny teeth and bones might build up beneath the plastic and they could explode. It is a delicate balancing act and it can take as long as a year to prepare one egg. Manning is a patient man, and, as he admits, “I am not certain how many embryos I have. It is not important to me at this time. I have never in my life worn a watch, and it was only two years ago that I accidently discovered how old I was. The latter was some surprise to me!”

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* “Dinosaur Eggs” is a National Geographic EXPLORER film.   1996 National Geographic Society. All rights reserved.