A discovery that will allow paleontologists to improve their knowledge of one of the largest living beings to have traveled the Earth.
Yesterday the University of Delhi announced a sensational find in the Narmada Valley in central India. They found one of the largest dinosaur nurseries in the world, with over 250 fossilized eggs. Their impressive state of conservation will allow us to learn very interesting information about the animals that occupy them.
And it’s not just any animals. According to the researchers, these eggs were deposited there by Titanosaurus. The term is not very precise, because it does not in fact designate a particular species; we’re actually talking about an entire clade.
But as their name, chosen in reference to the Titans of Greek mythology, indicates, they have something in common: their incredible size. Indeed, this clade included some of the most massive living beings to have walked the Earth to our knowledge. They were even bigger than the famous Diplodocus Where Brachiosaurus.
By estimating their size from fossilized bones, it appeared that the smaller titanosaur species were as long and heavy as a school bus, or 12 meters long for about 13 tons. And their head could culminate at more than five meters in height, that is to say as much as a very healthy giraffe. Other titanosaurs may have been even more massive. According to the Britannica Institute, a species called Dreadnoughtus even reached the 25 meters for 70 tons! In the video above, Alamosaurus and argentinosaurus are two representatives of this clade, and Sauroposeidon is a close cousin.
A wonderful collection full of information
Among dozens of eggs found in 92 separate nests, researchers identified at least 6 distinct species of titanosaurs. This is good news, because until now Indian paleontologists were unaware of such diversity in the region. All seemed to exhibit fairly similar behavioral traits. Indeed, the eggs were carefully buried in small pits specially dug for the occasion.
It is a way of protecting their precious offspring from the countless small egg-laying reptiles of the time. It is a stratagem that we find today in crocodiles, for example. But these nests were also very close to each other, and there was not enough room for so many adults to settle nearby. This suggests that the mother probably left her young to fend for themselves after spawning.
Observation of the eggs also offered some clues as to how they were laid. Certain pathologies, such as a rare case of egg in an egg suggest that the reproductive physiology of titanosaurs was quite similar to that of modern birds.
Researchers will continue to study these samples in the future. This will allow paleontologists to learn more about this huge group, but paradoxically not so well documented as that. By extension, this will also make it possible to refine the predictive models that describe the ecosystems of the time. According to Harsha Dhiman, lead author of the study, this work ” offer new insights into nest preservation conditions and reproductive strategies of sauropods just before their extinction. »
The text of the study is available here.