Huge pearl could be inside ancient oyster

X-RAY The pearl inside
X-RAY The pearl inside
From left, Jacob Kennard, Gavin Moon, Ian Doyle and Sarah Talboys-Smith with Shanon Rees and Rodney Watson at the front
 at the Southsea Village in Palmerston Road Picture: Habibur Rahman

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A GIANT fossilised oyster found by fishermen in the Solent could contain one of the world’s largest pearls.

An MRI scan on the prehistoric sea creature thought to be up to 145 million years old revealed a mysterious round object hidden inside the ancient shell.

The oyster, around 10 times the size of modern oysters, was first scanned with x-ray equipment before being scanned with MRI technology.

Lindsay Holloway, from Portsmouth’s Blue Reef where the oyster is on display, said: ‘It was amazing to watch the scanning processes and to see the results coming through.

‘They’re not conclusive but there is definitely some kind of roundish, lighter-coloured object which is visible from certain angles inside the shell.’

Staff believe the specimen could have been alive for more than 200 years compared to an average lifespan for modern oysters of just six years.

‘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,’ Lindsay added.

There are dozens of types of oyster alive today and virtually all are capable of producing pearls, however only pearls from certain species are deemed to be valuable.