More than 250 dinosaur eggs discovered in a fossilised hatchery of India

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In Central India, a team led by Harsha Dhiman discovered 92 nesting sites containing a total of 256 fossil dinosaur eggs belonging to titanosaurs — the largest dinosaurs ever to live!

Titanosaurs are a diverse group of sauropod dinosaur genera that span all seven continents. These plant-eating dinosaurs were among the last of the long-necked sauropod taxa to survive the Cretaceous extinction event, which occurred nearly 66 million years ago.

A detailed examination of these nests in the Narmada Valley’s Lamenta Formation, which is well-known for dinosaur skeletons and eggs, has now allowed Dhiman and colleagues to make inferences about these creatures’ life habits.

Field photographs of eggs and egg outlines showing various features.
Field photographs of eggs and egg outlines showing various features. Credit: Harsha Dhiman

The researchers discovered six different egg species, indicating that titanosaurs were more diverse than their skeletal remains suggested. And the manner in which these eggs were buried in shallow pits reminded me of what modern-day crocodiles do.

The team also discovered a rare case of an egg-in-egg, which suggested that titanosaur sauropods had a reproductive physiology similar to that of birds and may have laid their eggs sequentially, as seen in modern birds.

Furthermore, the presence of the nests in the same location suggested that these titanosaurs, like many modern birds, engaged in colonial nesting behaviour. The close spacing, on the other hand, left little room for adult dinosaurs, lending credence to the theory that adults abandoned the hatchlings to fend for themselves.

This study discovered a large hatchery of titanosaur sauropod dinosaurs in the study area. Together with dinosaur nests from Jabalpur in the upper Narmada valley in the east and Balasinor in the west, the new nesting sites from Madhya Pradesh’s Dhar form one of the world’s largest dinosaur hatcheries, according to study co-author Guntupalli V.R. Prasad.

It also provides new insights into the nest preservation and reproductive strategies of titanosaur sauropod dinosaurs just before their extinction, according to Harsha Dhiman.

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