HECHENLEITNER Esteban Martin
A new Upper Cretaceous titanosaur nesting site from La Rioja (NW Argentina), with implications for titanosaur nesting strategies
MARTÍN HECHENLEITNER; LUCAS FIORELLI; GERALD GRELLET-TINNER; LÉA LEUZINGER; GIORGIO BASILICI; JEREMÍAS TABORDA; SERGIO DE LA VEGA; CARLOS BUSTAMANTE
WILEY-BLACKWELL PUBLISHING, INC
Lugar: Londres; Año: 2016
Cretaceous titanosaur nesting sites are currently known only from Europe, Asia and South America. In the latter, only the Auca Mahuevo and Sanagasta nesting sites have been confidently assigned to this clade of sauropod dinosaurs. Here we report the discovery of the first eggs and egg clutches found at Tama, a new Upper Cretaceous fossiliferous locality in the Los Llanos Formation, Sierra de Los Llanos (La Rioja, NW Argentina). At least five egg clutches, several partially preserved, isolated eggs and many eggshell fragments were discovered in a single outcrop of a sandstone horizon which represents a cumulative palaeosol profile. Although the mechanical and digital preparation of eggs did not reveal any embryonic remains in ovo, the morphology of the eggs and eggshells closely matches that of titanosaur eggs and eggshells found worldwide. The morphology and spatial grouping of the titanosaur eggs from Tama, along with geological observations support a burrow-nesting strategy for these dinosaurs. Although the Sanagasta and Tama eggs were found in the same stratigraphical unit and share several morphological characters, they clearly differ in shell thickness and egg size. This, coupled with the interpretation of different sedimentary contexts for these nesting sites, strongly suggests that at least two different titanosaur species nested in La Rioja during the Late Cretaceous, using different nesting strategies. The occurrence of this new titanosaur nesting site in a semiarid palaeoenvironment represents an interesting case study for the reproductive biology of the titanosaur dinosaurs, particularly their labile nesting behaviour.