Thursday, September 6, 2012
WALLA WALLA — Visitors to the Marcus Whitman Gem & Mineral Society’s annual show will be treated to several pieces of prehistory this year.
Evert Ensley, who has been collecting dinosaur eggs and other fossils for more than a decade, will bring his collection into town for the exhibition.
He will share the Walla Walla County Fairgrounds Community Center with a number of vendors and a variety of demonstrations.
Visiting museums with specimens on display inspired Ensley, a 93-year-old Meridian, Idaho, resident, to take up dinosaur egg collecting.
“I’ve always collected old stuff, and it just seemed like it would be really nice to have one (egg), so I ended up with a lot of them,” he said.
Dinosaur egg collecting is no cheap hobby. One of the Tyrannosaurus rex eggs Ensley purchased cost $8,000.
Even smaller eggs are worth thousands of dollars. For someone who has been amassing his collection for more than a decade like Ensley, price can be prohibitive.
“You can’t buy too many of them,” he said.
Part of what keeps prices high is the relative difficulty of obtaining the eggs.
In addition to a finite supply, researchers often buy up the best specimens for scientific experimentation.
Many of the eggs found in the United States aren’t made available to collectors.
To keep building his collection, Ensley gets new specimens from China.
“I had a friend who buys them out of China, and I got all of them I could afford.”
While it may seem like the eggs ought to be hollow, millions of years worth of fossilization mean the eggs themselves are a lot more like rocks than any eggs today.
To spruce up his presentation, Ensley likes to get a bit creative with how he shows off the eggs in his collection.
“I like to build a nest and put them in a nest, like you read about,” he said.
Ensley said wherever he takes his collection, people are always receptive.
“They all like it, especially kids.”
Now, all Ensley has to do is figure out how he’s going to get a 4-foot-long T-rex skeleton into town.