100-Million-Year-Old Oyster Could House World’s Biggest Pearl

How would you like to have a pearl the size of a golf ball? That is how big the pearl inside a 100-million-year-old oyster found near the Solient, a strait separating mainland England from the Isle of Wight, could be.

The Huffington Post notes that the pearl, while huge, and likely one of the oldest on Earth, is unlikely to top the world’s largest, the clam-produced Pearl of Allah, which weighs an astonishing 14 pounds, and has an estimated worth of $60 million.

The gigantic oyster fossil was accidentally trawled up by fisherman, and is now housed at the Blue Reef Aquarium in Portsmouth, England, where it will soon undergo an MRI to see if it contains a giant pearl.

The Daily Mail reports that the gigantic fossil is ten times bigger than a regular oyster shell, measuring in (after the mud was washed off) at seven inches wide and three inches thick. A spokesman for the Blue Reef Aquarium told The Daily Mail that:

“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.”

The spokesman went on to explain how the Aquarium came to possess the fossil, saying:

“A member of the public called and informed us it was on display at a local fishmongers so we called them and they gave it to us to have in the aquarium. Oysters can be aged by annual growth rings on their shells and we have counted more than 200 rings on this oyster making it an extremely long-lived individual.”

They explained as well that there is only “a million-to-one chance” that the oyster fossil will contain anything at all, but based on the shell’s dimensions, the potential pearl will be about the size of a golf ball. The Daily Mail reports that they will scan the giant oyster fossil to see if it is concealing an ancient pearl.