A 150-million-year-old unopened oyster was found off the coast of England may hold a massive pearl about the size of a golf ball, after experts used medical MRI scanning technology to analyze the object inside.
The ancient fossil could be worth thousands, but experts did not explore the contents any further because it will destroy it. The oyster measures about 7 inches across and resides at the Blue Reef Aquarium in Portsmouth, where it is kept securely and brought out only for lectures.
“It was discovered in the nets of a fishing boat which was dredging here in the Solent. When the fishermen came back to port they thought it was real, but when they picked it up, cleaned it, and had a closer look they could tell it was a fossil. It had completely turned to stone,” Lindsay Holloway, from the aquarium, told the Daily Mail.
“To have a pearl the size of a golf ball would be exceptional. The biggest that have been recorded are about half that size,” Jewellery expert Geoffrey Munn said.
Following news of the discovery a company in Cheltenham called Cobalt, which provides state of the art scanning services to the NHS and private patients, volunteered to scan the oyster to see what was inside.
Holloway said that oysters can be aged by annual growth rings on their shells and they have counted more than 200 rings.
“It’s obviously a million-to-one chance that it would contain anything but, if you were to go purely on the dimensions of the shell then you’d be looking at a golf ball-sized pearl,” she said.