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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Oldest dinosaur nesting site found in South Africa


A 190 million year old dinosaur nesting sight has been found in the Golden Gate Highlands National Park.

This nest is apparently more than 100 million years older than previously known nesting sites.

The site belonged to an early pro-sauropod dinosaur of the early Jurassic called Massospondylus, and reveals significant clues about how complex reproductive behaviours evolved in early dinosaurs.

The six metre mother appeared to have maintained an organised nest, suggesting she arranged the eggs carefully after laying them.

The clutches of eggs, many with embryos and tiny dinosaur footprint, are the oldest known evidence of hatchlings staying in their nests long enough to at least double in size.

"The eggs, embryos, and nests come from the rocks of a nearly vertical road cut only 25 metres long," said Prof. Robert Reisz of the the University of Toronto at Mississauga, who led the study.

"Even so, we found ten nests, suggesting that there are a lot more nests in the cliff, still covered by tons of rock. We predict that many more nests will be eroded out in time, as natural weathering processes continue," Reisz said.

The study was co-authored by Doctors Hans-Dieter Sues (Smithsonian Institute, USA), Eric Roberts (James Cook University, Australia), and Adam Yates (Bernard Price Institute (BPI) for Palaeontological Research at Wits).

It was published in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The full study can be read here...(PDF 1475KB)

Sourced from: timeslive.co.za




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