A GIGANTIC oyster fossil that was accidentally trawled up by fishermen is to be MRI scanned to see if it contains an enormous pearl.
The prehistoric mollusc is more than 100 million years old and is 10 times bigger than a regular oyster shell.
It was hauled up in the Solent and found in the nets of the trawler boat when it returned to port.
After layers of mud were washed off, it was clear the item was a huge fossilised shell that measured seven inches wide and three inches thick.
A shell of this size could be concealing a pearl the size of a golf ball, dwarfing the average 7mm diametre size of an oyster pearl. Such a gem would be worth thousands of pounds.
The oyster has been given to the Blue Reef Aquarium in Portsmouth.
Experts there have managed to date it by studying its growth rings, much like a tree. They are now waiting to have it MRI scanned to see if it holds the rare gem.
An aquarium spokesman said: ‘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.’