Numerous discoveries in the Tiantai basin of Zhejiang Province, China, enrich our understanding of the parataxonomy, paleobiology and taphonomic histories of fossil eggs from a diverse array of Cretaceous oofamilies. We describe the most abundant of these egg types catalogued in the Zhejiang Museum of Natural History, Spheroolithus cf. zhangtoucaoensis (oofamily Spheroolithidae). Scanning electron microscopy, here utilised for the first time on Spheroolithus eggs from Tiantai, and petrographic microscopy reveal 0.81-1.37-mm thick eggshell composed of a single structural layer of calcite with slightly flaring shell units, irregular pores, horizontal accretion lines and a sweeping extinction pattern under crossed polars. This contradicts previous reports of the presence of two structural layers in Tiantai Spheroolithus. Clutches consist of 2-13 eggs arranged in an irregular, single-layered pattern. As these eggs are among the oldest Asian examples of Spheroolithus currently known, they may shed light on the early evolution of this oogenus. This study establishes the definitive presence of the Spheroolithidae in the Tiantai basin, contra recent reports, and provides the framework for ongoing examination of egg diversity and taphonomy in the Tiantai basin.
- Zhejiang Province