Researchers have made an amazing discovery in central India. Ninety-two nests comprising 256 titanosaur eggs have been unearthed, making it possible to study the behavior and biology of these giants of the past.
Titanosaurs. This is a rather explicit name for these giants who lived between 90 and 65 million years ago. They are part of the last group of sauropods before the extinction that marks the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary. This group of dinosaurs has many species among the heaviest to have ever walked on earth. It is estimated that some specimens could weigh up to 100 tons, for several tens of meters long and several meters high.
Widespread, these giant, long-necked herbivores likely dominated their environment. Fossilized remains have indeed been found all over the worldfrom Antarctica to Italy, via Australia and India.
It was in the Narmada Valley, in central India, that researchers from New Delhi made an exceptional discovery. Ninety-two nests belonging to titanosaurs have been found, possessing a total of 256 fossilized eggs.
The same behavior as birds
Six species of eggs were thus identified, which suggests that the number of different species was much greater than what the skeletons discovered in the region suggested. Analysis nests and eggs also provided valuable information on the life habits of titanosaurs and their biology. The results are presented in the journal PLOS One.
Much like today’s crocodiles, these dinosaurs buried their eggs shallowly in the ground. The nests appear to be grouped together in a fairly small area, suggesting that titanosaurs gathered in “colonies” to lay eggs, like some birds. The relatively small spacing between nests shows, however, that the females had to leave the spawning area quickly, without waiting for the eggs to hatch and thus leaving the young to their fate. In these nests, scientists have discovered some cases of “egg in an egg”, a rare pathology found in modern birds. This suggests that titanosaurs had a relatively similar reproductive system to birds, which lay their eggs sequentially.
This hatchery is therefore an opportunity to study the behavior of these dinosaurs, which the skeletons do not allow.