Researchers just discovered an exceptionally preserved clutch of dinosaur eggs in the Javkhlant region of the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. The eggs came from a species of theropod dinosaurs that are believe to use an unusual method of incubating their eggs.
These fossilised eggs don’t just allow scientists to know how the dinosaurs eggs looked but how they lived and raised their young.
The researchers that led the discovery argue that these theropod nested in colonies in order to protect their eggs more efficiently. These colonies would function as a dinosaur nursery with individual dinosaurs protecting the eggs of other members of their collective. This not only guarantees the survival of the individual’s eggs, but it would have also ensured the success of their species.
The spherical eggs were laid in the cretaceous period, around 66 million years ago just before the fall of the dinosaurs.
The eggs were ranging in size with the majority of the eggs measuring between 10cm and 15cm and were found in clutches of between 3 and 30 eggs.
The fossilised embryonic remains as well as the surrounding shell can tell experts a lot about the environment and the nature in which they were nested.
Typically, animals that live in dry, arid environments lay eggs with high porosity, meaning the eggs have a porous surface, just like these Javkhlant eggs. High porosity in dry environments functions as a method of reducing water loss within the egg.
However, scientist believe the porosity is more similar to that of the Australian megapode bird’s eggs. This suggests that, like the megapode, these theropods buried their eggs in organic material. This method of burying eggs in organic material functions as a kind of incubator. As the vegetation rots it produces heat which keeps the eggs warm.
It is suggested that the eggs are porous because of their oxygen poor environment and that the porousness allows the embryo to breath.