Forwarded by Loren Coleman
Possible Vegetarian Dinosaur Nests Found in Argentina
Updated 3:47 PM ET April 3, 2000
By Robert Elliott
BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Paleontologists in Argentina's Patagonian hinterland said on Monday they had found what they believed were the first nests of plant-eating dinosaurs ever discovered.
The researchers in Argentina's Neuquen province found depressions holding 15 to 35 eggs each, with the eggs appearing to rest in baskets of clay, paleontologist Rodolfo Coria, one of the leaders of the dig, told Reuters.
Thousands of embryo-bearing dinosaur eggs were discovered in the same arid scrubland region two years ago.
"If the results of the investigations indicate that they are nests, they would be the first nests of sauropods known to the world," said Coria. Sauropods are large, plant-eating dinosaurs including the brontosaurus and brachiosaurus. Coria said it would take some work to determine if the depressions, which pepper an area about 13 miles (20 km) long by four miles wide, are actually nests or some natural formation.
"We cannot know if these 'nests' were the structural product of the animal's biological action or natural depressions where the eggs accumulated," said Coria.
Dinosaur nests belonging to carnivores were previously discovered in the Gobi Desert and western North America. But the new Patagonian variety are thought to be the work of titanosaurus, a plant-eater that roamed the rivers of these now-arid flatlands 80 million years ago.
"It is probable it is titanosaurus because there was no other group of sauropods in such great numbers in Patagonia," said Coria.
The beast was roughly the size of a school bus, stretching 15 yards (meters) and weighing 15 tons. It had a long neck, serpentine tail, small head and four elephantine legs.
For dinosaur hunters the barren plains of Patagonia are a treasure trove of fossils. What is believed to have been the largest creature ever to roam the Earth, an as-yet unnamed dinosaur, was uncovered this year in a remote valley in Rio Negro province south of Neuquen.