Almost a hundred titanosaur nests with eggs the size of bowling balls – this amazing find was made by paleontologists in central India. The breeding ground of these prehistoric reptiles has been found for the first time.
Subsequent analysis shows that these dinosaurs had a lot in common with birds, 256 eggs in 92 nests – the discovery sheds new light on the reproductive strategies of the largest dinosaurs. The breeding ground was found in the Dar district of Madhya Pradesh state in central India, and it belonged to a colony of titanosaurs.
The nests, or clutches, were closely spaced and each contained one to 20 eggs or their shells.
Scientists from the University of Delhi, who studied the find, reported that the healthy eggs were spherical or spherical in shape and 15-17 cm in diameter.
“Our research reveals a perfect breeding ground for titanosaur sauropod dinosaurs and provides new insights into the nesting conditions and reproductive strategies of titanosaurs just before their extinction,” said Harsha Diman, lead author of the study, in a university statement.
The study, which appears Jan. 18 in the journal PLOS One, shows that titanosaurs nested in a similar way to birds today—in colonies, nesting and laying eggs close together. However, given the size of the titanosaurs – and they were the largest known dinosaurs, which could reach 30 meters in length – this limited space must have precluded nurturing offspring.
So it seems that the titanosaurs left the laid eggs to themselves.
“Near the nests they will not be allowed to visit them, for example, turning eggs while incubating or feeding the young.” Guntupalli Prasad, a paleontologist and co-author of the study, explained to CNN. “The parents were crushing their balls,” he added.
Like birds, titanosaurs probably laid their eggs one by one. This is evidenced by the deformed specimens detected, suggesting a phenomenon known – so far only in birds – as the ‘egg in the egg’. It consists in the fact that in the shell of the egg there is a second shell, as if it were an egg in an egg. “This is the first report of this type of egg disease in reptiles, including dinosaurs,” says Harsha Dheiman.
Some of the dinosaur’s broods – the newer ones – were found in a shallow pit, others among the vegetation. The eggs and shells were so well preserved in the rocks that scientists were able to isolate the protein fragments.
To shed more light on the first period of life of titanosaurs, it is planned to scan eggs using 3D tomography. Researchers hope to see preserved embryonic skeletons.
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