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A Tryst With Titanosaurus

Paleontologists recently discovered at least 250 fossilised eggs and more than 90 nesting sites of Titanosaurus (a dubious genus of sauropod dinosaurs), dating back about 67 million years, in the central Indian Province of Madhya Pradesh. Researchers from the Delhi University and the Kolkata-based Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, involved in the excavation, have confirmed that they found nests and 256 eggs of the herbivorous titanosaurs in the Narmada Valley.

While carrying out the excavation in Bagh and Kukshi areas in Madhya Pradesh’s Dhar District in the third week of January 2023, researchers discovered of ovum-in-ovo (multi-shell eggs) in Bagh and Kukshi areas. According to the findings published in PLoS One Research Journal by Harsha Dhiman, Vishal Verma and Guntupalli Prasad, the nests and eggs have helped researchers get an idea about the lives of the long-necked sauropods that used to roam in that particular region of India more than 66 million years ago.

Talking to the media, Verma said: “The eggs were found from the estuary formed at a place where the Tethys Sea merged with the Narmada when Seychelles had broken away from the Indian plate. The separation of Seychelles had led to the incursion of the Tethys Sea 400km inside the Narmada Valley.” He stressed that the nests, discovered in the Narmada Valley, were close to each other. It is unusual, as the nests are usually located at some distance from each other.

Verma explained the reason behind multi-shell eggs, saying that the mother might have failed to find favourable conditions for laying eggs. “In such conditions, the eggs remain in the oviduct and the shell formation begins again. There could also have been instances of a dinosaur dying before laying eggs,” he stated. Verma is of the opinion that the eggs, which ranged between 15cm and 17cm in diameter, most probably belonged to more than one titanosaur species.

The study mentioned: “During the field investigations carried out between 2017 and 2020, we found extensive hatcheries of dinosaurs in Bagh and Kukshi areas in Dhar District, notably from the villages Akhada, Dholiya Raipuriya, Jhaba, Jamniapura, and Padlya.” This region is located near the eastern most Lameta exposures at Jabalpur in Upper Narmada Valley and Balasinor in the west in Lower Narmada Valley. Guntupalli V R Prasad, the co-author and leader of the research team, insisted: “Together with dinosaur nests from Jabalpur in the upper Narmada Valley in the east and those from Balasinor in the west, the new nesting sites from Dhar District in Madhya Pradesh (Central India), covering an east-west stretch of about 1000km, constitute one of the largest dinosaur hatcheries in the world.

For his part, Harsha Dhiman, the lead author of the study, said: “Our research has revealed the presence of an extensive hatchery of titanosaur sauropod dinosaurs in the study area and offers new insights into the conditions of nest preservation and reproductive strategies of titanosaur sauropod dinosaurs just before they went extinct.

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