More than 92 dinosaur nests with eggs have been found in India, in the state of Maya Pradesh, where there is a very prolific paleontological site. From mere fragments to complete eggs, 256 specimens have been identified, one of the largest nurseries of ancient creatures in the world. Dating carried out on the rocks surrounding the items determined their age to be at the end of the Cretaceous, a period that ranges from 72 to 66 million years ago.
- Argentinosaurus is the largest dinosaur that ever lived
- Giant bones found could be from the biggest dinosaur to ever walk the Earth
Preserved amid the limestone, the eggs most likely belong to the extinct titanosaurs, large long-necked reptiles that roamed the earth from 145 to 66 million years ago, reaching an incredible 40 meters in length. According to analyzes on the hatchlings’ wrappers, they would belong to at least 6 different species.
Customs and Titanosaur Eggs
Near the Dhar district, the site proved to have been a favorite nesting site for large animals, but it does not contain any preserved bones or other remains, even fossilized embryos, making it difficult to define which clade, specifically, laid its eggs there. The region was already known by previous works, when the first eggs of the Lameta Formation were found, but the abundant discovery only came with a deeper survey, started in 2017.
It took 3 years to collect all the eggs, which were then studied microscopically in the laboratory, both in the shell and in the sediments found inside. Among the findings are some eggs with multiple shells (ovum-in-ovo, or “egg-in-egg”), a common reproductive failure in birds. This evidences the kinship of birds with theropod dinosaurs, even more so in titanosaurs, far removed from birds, with which the event was rarely recorded.
The ovum-in-ovo condition makes the embryo unfeasible, leaving several eggs without hatching. Others, found in areas subject to bad weather and flooding, also failed to hatch, a possible indication that titanosaurs had a habit similar to that of modern crocodiles, burying their eggs. As no adult remains were found, it is likely that another crocodile behavior occurred — that of seeking food in other regions, far from the nests.
Three types of egg disposition were noted, indicating, for example, that they were laid sequentially, with the formation of colonies to deposit them in the same place, like birds. Computed tomography scans were performed on some specimens, looking for internal bone indications, but the high density of the items did not allow any relevant traces of unhatched dinosaurs to be observed.
There are fossiliferous sites with similar eggs in Argentina and Spain, allowing some comparisons in the fossil structures of the proto-hatchlings, which should bring us more information about the Indian find. Joining the locality to two others already studied in India, there are more than 900 kilometers from east to west containing Maastrichtian nurseries, stage of the end of the Cretaceous period, which raises the Lameta Formation to be one of the largest and most important on the planet.
Source: PLoS One