MOSCOW – A university in Chechnya said Tuesday an unprecedented stash of giant fossilized dinosaur eggs was found in a remote mountainous area of the North Caucasus region, but the claim was met with skepticism.
The Chechen state university uploaded photos of the egg-shaped protrusions on a rock face discovered in the region's south on its website, calling them a "sensational find" and Russia's main channels showed the remote site Tuesday.
"The discovery is sensational not only for our republic, but because of the size of the eggs," some of which measure as long as 40 inches (102cm), the university said. "There have never been such large (eggs) in the world."
Russian state television showed scientists scrambling about on a rocky mountainside chipping samples off the puzzling rock formations.
"Giant eggs set to lure tourists to Chechnya," the NTV channel headlined its story.
Chechnya has been trying to cast aside its reputation as a war-torn republic plagued by rampant corruption by hosting lavish sports and entertainment events and announcing plans for a large ski resort.
But a paleontologist in Moscow questioned the authenticity of the reported discovery.
"Unfortunately, it's not true. Dinosaurs laid small eggs," said Valentina Nazarova of the Moscow State University's paleontology department, adding that dinosaurs probably never lived in the mountainous North Caucasus.
"Dinosaurs didn't lay eggs while jumping about like mountain goats," she said.
"If they want to create a legend for tourists, they should have said the eggs were laid by a mythical Roc bird," she said, referring to a giant bird that features in the Arabian Nights tales.
"I am sincerely sorry for them, but I also wouldn't want to go against science."