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article imagePaleontologists find abandoned nests of dinosaur eggshells

By Leigh Goessl     Aug 5, 2013 in Science
Paleontologists working in Portugal have found a nest of abandoned dinosaur eggshells. The remains are estimated to be about 150 million years old.
A team of researchers from the Universidade Nova de Lisboa found two separate sets of dinosaur egg remains at dig sites in Portugal.
A somewhat rare find, the dinosaur eggs were described as being shattered. In the remains there was no trace of any embryos, but the scientists were able to look at the texture, size and shape of the eggs in order to conclude which type of dinosaurs they belonged to.
The scientists believe they were able to identify one set of eggs as once carrying Torvosaurus, a large carnivorous predator during the Jurassic-Era, reported Live Science.
These eggs were 6 inches (15 centimeters) in diameter and would have held a dinosaur embryo that eventually would have grown to be up to 36 feet (11 meters) tall.
Dinosaur eggs in general are reported to be a rare find. And not much is known about Torvosaurus, described National Geographic in a February 2013 report, having only been identified relatively recently in 1979. It was a large predator.
"It [Torvosaurus] was the equivalent of the T. rex in the Cretaceous," said study co-author Vasco Ribeiro, a paleontologist at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa in Portugal.
Lourinhanosaurus antunesi?
The second set of eggs were described as being harder to identify, but the team of researchers theorizes it belonged to Lourinhanosaurus antunesi, a carnivorous theropod. Smaller than the Torvosaurus, an adult Lourinhanosaurus antunesi, would have grown to be about 15 (4.5 meters long).
The eggs, if intact, would have been about 5 inches (13 centimeters) by 3.5 inches (9 centimeters).
Dinosaur parenting styles not certain
In general, not a lot is known about how dinosaurs reared their young. Scientists have found abundant evidence that eggs were laid, but did the mighty creatures tend to the nest, or did they lay their eggs and leave?
Earlier this year a study came out that theorizes dinosaurs had a "birdlike approach" when it came to their nests, reported Live Science (courtesy Fox News). Previous reports indicated that they do care for their young. However, hard evidence is difficult to find.
In 2011, Digital Journal reported on a nest of 15 baby dinosaurs found in Mongolia. That set of fossilized babies were of herbivore dinosaurs and were dated to be about 70 to 80 million years old.
At this time Ribeiro and colleagues have not ascertained how these recently found sets of eggs were abandoned. It is not known whether or not something happened to the parents, or if leaving eggs behind and the babies tending to themselves was just normal behavior.
"We have no evidence that mother dinosaur took food to the nest or protected the nest," Ribeiro told LiveScience.
Related reading:
Oldest dinosaur nesting site uncovered by Canadian researchers
More about Dinosaur, Paleontology, Paleontologists, dinosaur nests, dinosaur eggshells
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