Albert G. Sellés, Bernat Vila & Àngel Galobart (2017)
Evidence of Reproductive Stress in Titanosaurian Sauropods Triggered by an Increase in Ecological Competition.
Scientific Reports 7, Article number: 13827 (2017)
The occurrence of dinosaur pathologic eggs in the Late Cretaceous of Europe is well known, but their origin remains unclear. Here we expose the results of a detailed sampling of the conspicuous fossil record of Late Cretaceous titanosaurian eggs (oogenus Megaloolithius) from several southwestern Europe basins. After examining more than 450 samples, we observed a remarkable and statistically supported occurrence of multiple pathologic eggs in a relatively short stratigraphic range at the end of the early Maastrichtian, circa 71-70 Ma. All pathologic specimens exhibit multi-layered eggshell condition, a characteristic related to dystocia, or egg retention within the female uterus for an abnormal prolonged period of time. After exploring various scenarios, the occurrence of pathologic eggs is strongly correlated with an intense dinosaur faunal replacement that occurred during the early Maastrichtian in the Ibero-Armorican Island. Given that inter-species competiveness is proved to produce major affects in ecological communities, our results suggest that pathologies in the eggs of European titanosaurians could be a consequence of an increase in reproductive stress triggered by direct ecological competition between different dinosaurs. Thus, the present study provides a new perspective of how dinosaurs might have been affected by ecological/environmental disturbance.