India’s fossil legacy is still barely untapped despite creating the first whales, some of the largest elephants and rhinos, and bizarre horned reptiles that roamed the Earth before the dinosaurs appeared. However, things are changing as more palaeontologists get interested in the abundance of fossils in our nation.
The largest dinosaurs to have ever existed, titanosaurs, recently had 92 nesting sites and a total of 256 fossil eggs discovered in Central India by a team led by Harsha Dhiman.
A varied group of sauropod dinosaurs known as titanosaurs includes species from all seven continents. These long-necked sauropods, which consumed plants, were among the last of their kind to survive when the Cretaceous extinction catastrophe took place about 66 million years ago.
Dhiman and colleagues have now been able to draw conclusions about the lifestyle of these creatures by a thorough investigation of these nests found in the Lamenta Formation of the Narmada Valley, which is famous for fossils of dinosaur skeletons and eggs.
The discovery of six different egg species shows that the titanosaurs were more diverse than what was implied by their skeletal remains. Additionally, the way these eggs were buried in small trenches was similar to what crocodiles do today.
The scientists also discovered a rare instance of an egg-in-egg, which suggested that titanosaur sauropods may have shared avian reproductive physiology and may have lain their eggs sequentially.
Additionally, the presence of the nests in the same location revealed that these titanosaurs probably engaged in colonial nesting behavior similar to that of many contemporary birds. The lack of space for adult dinosaurs, however, due to the close spacing, supports the theory that adults abandoned the hatchlings to fend for themselves.
This study found that the study region was home to a sizable titanosaur sauropod dinosaur hatchery. According to study co-author Guntupalli V.R. Prasad, the 1000 km east-west stretch of the new nesting sites from Madhya Pradesh’s Dhar constitute one of the largest dinosaur hatcheries in the world, along with dinosaur nests from Jabalpur in the upper Narmada valley in the east and those from Balasinor in the west.
Harsha Dhiman continued, “It also provides new insights into the conditions of nest preservation and reproductive methods of titanosaur sauropod dinosaurs at the time of their extinction.”