What an amazing find. That’s fifteen juvenile dinosaurs in one nest. They’re thought to be about a year old. Fifteen juveniles in one nest! I was already puzzling about that before I read the text – which confirms that it’s puzzling.
Scientists once believed that dinosaurs generally followed a crocodile-like model of child care—they would lay their eggs and leave their nests for good. This idea was replaced by the view that dinosaurs raised their young for a time after hatching, the way many birds do.
Now, Fastovsky explained, people understand that the ancient reptiles had parenting styles unlike those of any animals alive today.
Fifteen babies, as seen in the newfound fossil nest, is an unusually large number of offspring for any animal to nurture at once, Fastovsky said. Modern animals tend to have a few young, in which they invest heavily, like humans, or they have a “zillion babies” and show no parental care, like mosquitoes.
“So these [dinosaurs] seem to be something else.”
Kind of worst of both worlds – lots of kids, intensively raised. But how fascinating.
How did they all die at once? I was thinking maybe a blast of toxic gas from somewhere, such as a volcano. But –
As seen above, all of the young Protoceratops in the newfound nest are facing the same direction, giving scientists a clue to how they died.
“Our scenario is that these things were pointed away from the wind as it was blowing during a sand storm, and then they were catastrophically buried by an encroaching dune,” Fastovsky said.
“I think in this particular case, it really was dramatic—this fossil really records the last, bug-eyed, terrified minutes of their little lives.”
I love amazing finds.