This mysterious cliff in rural China lays 'eggs'

This mysterious cliff in rural China lays 'eggs'

How does a cliff lay an egg? That is the question geologists are asking in the face of a new mystery taking place in rural China. In Guizhou province, in southwestern China, tucked away in the corner of the Qiannan Buyei and Miao Autonomous Region, there exists a natural cliff-face that lays smooth egg-shaped rocks every thirty years, like some kind of cultish ritual.

It's an area so rural that the nearest village has only twenty buildings. The cliff in question is about twenty feet tall, and sixty-eight such stones have been recovered from the cliff, smooth as an egg, and dark-blue in color, just like dinosaur's eggs.

The cliff itself came to be 500 million years ago, in the Cambrian era that preceded the dinosaur age.

It doesn't seem like anything will hatch from these smooth stones, which measure between 8 and 23.8 inches. These stones protrude from the wall until they fall loose, rolling to the ground as if they have been laid just like an egg. Some are staggeringly heavy, and are kept and taken care of by the locals, who worship them as a supernatural occurrence.

Like so many natural mysteries, scientists have a good idea as to why this is happening, but no specific theory has been accepted as of yet. These 'eggs' could simply be lumps of calcium carbonate found in the seas 500 million years ago, and when mountains rose free of the deeps, they held these stores of sediment inside them. But why do they emerge so slowly from the rock-face, and fall to the ground like ripe fruit?

Well, the cliff weathers away and is eroded faster than the lumps which are preserved inside. So as the cliff recedes, the lumps of calcium sediment inside move nearer and nearer to the egg, where they are 'born'.

Why are the 'eggs' so smooth, then? Running water is a good explanation. The edges are constantly rounded by internal waterfalls or rain that is inside the cliff, that erodes only the edges of the egg, and not the center of the rock itself, unlike the cliff, which wears away in full exposure to the elements.

I'm no geologist, but that makes more sense than supposing that the Earth is emitting rock-eggs for some sinister or supernatural purpose. But just because something has a scientific explanation doesn't make it any less magnificent. The direct experience of this phenomenon has a wonder that water and sediment alone cannot dissipate.

If you found that a cliff outside your house was laying eggs, what would you do? In the back of your mind, would you hope that they were actually ancient dragon eggs, preserved in stone over the centuries? Perhaps in a more fantastic universe than ours, that is the case.

The Gaia hypothesis postulates the green Earth as the organic body of a living deity. If that is to be believed, then inorganic minerals are just as 'alive' as anything else in the universe. This bears some resemblance to the theory called 'panpsychism', which claims that thought, or mind, is present in all material substances, not just human brains, and is a fundamental part of the universe, just like matter.

We can always hope the eggs will hatch, right? Some stone monsters will be born...