Baby dinosaurs nest discovered in ‘Dragon’s Tomb’, Mongolia

15 Oct 2015

A replica of a Saurolophus dinosaur. Image via Wikimedia Commons

A nest of baby dinosaurs with duck bills, known as hadrosaurs, has been found fossilised in a slab of rock in an area known as the Dragon’s Tomb in Mongolia.

The baby dinosaurs, which resemble the Ducky character in the children’s classic The Land Before Time, were found in a 1ft-long piece of rock in the middle of the Gobi Desert, which had, until now, been unidentifiable.

According to Live Science, there were three babies of the Saurolophus angustirostris genus discovered, which the research team involved will now use to piece together its family tree, with its findings having now been published in the journal PLOS ONE.

This discovery makes the three babies the youngest examples of the Saurolophus genus that has been discovered and, with their measurements, the team hopes that it will be able to determine what changes occur for it to grow 40-times in size in its adult form.

The baby dinosaur nest. Image via Dewaele et al

The baby dinosaur nest. Image via Dewaele et al

Some interesting discoveries have already been made when comparing the perinatal and adult Saurolophus examples, as the defining crest that the adult has on top of its head has been found to not be present in these new examples.

Also, the babies’ duck-billed snouts were also found to be different from the adult counterparts.

“While hadrosaurids are considered the so-called duck-billed dinosaurs, we saw a very small snout [compared to adults],” said the study’s lead author Leonard Dewaele from Ghent University in Belgium. “This had been anticipated by other scientists.”

While the details of their upbringing remain scant given the obvious passing of time, the researchers say that the nest was most likely situated on a river bank that would have been washed away and covered with sand nearly 65m years ago.

While now a desert, the Gobi region during this time would have been situated on a large flood plain but, somewhat sadly, it is believed that the babies may have already been dead at the time they were washed away.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic