Photo by Dr. Kh. Tsogtbaatar
Fossil hunters in Mongolia have unearthed what is the largest known nest of baby dinosaurs – 15 of them in a bowl-shaped area just over two feet wide.
While there have been many nests of eggs discovered in recent years, this is the first of its kind – the first where the eggs had all hatched.
The researchers say that the 15 dinosaurs all show juvenile characteristics. These include short snouts, proportionately large eyes, and an absence of adult characteristics, such as the prominent horns and large frills associated with adults of this species. At least 10 of the 15 fossils are complete.
The nest, which is about 70 million years old, was probably buried by a sudden avalanche of sand that suffocated the animals.
Had the babies not been killed by sand, many of them would probably still not have survived.
“Large clutches may have been a way of ensuring survival of the animals in that setting—even if there was extensive parental care,” Fastovsky said. “Mongolia was, at the time, a place with a variety of theropod dinosaurs, some of whom likely ate babies such as these.”
Among these predators would have been the famous velociraptor, whose fossil remains have been found in the same region. Fastovsky described velociraptors as “a smallish nasty theropod with bad breath, for whom babies such as these would have made a nice bon bon.”
For more information, check out this article on Discovery News.