Dinosaur eggs in Portugal were likely laid by a Torvosaurus, the largest predator of its day. The giant creatures lived during the Jurassic Era and were considered the equivalent of the T. rex in the Cretaceous.
Ancient dino eggs are a rare and delicate find, but paleontologists have sill unearthed some of the most primitive Torovosaurus embryos ever discovered.
The find was made by Vasco Ribeiro, a paleontologist with Portugal’s Universidade Nova de Lisboa, reports The Huffington Post. He and several colleagues found the eggshells at two separate sites in the Lourinhã Formation.
The formation is known for its Jurassic dinosaur nest sites, making it the perfect place to find eggs and eggshells. The area was a floodplain that cycled through dry seasons and monsoon rains during that period of time.
While the dinosaur eggshells found in Portugal were shattered, leaving no trace of embryos, researchers were able to analyze the shape, size, and texture of the shells to determine which animals left them.
The first clutch was made up of spherical eggs about six inches in diameter, notes Mother Nature Network. They likely belonged to the Torvosaurus, which grew up to 36 feet.
The eggs found at the second site weren’t as easy to identify. However, they believe they were laid by a theropod called the Lourinhanosaurus antunesi. The dinosaur was about 15 feet long when it was fully grown. The eggs were about five inches long and 3.5 inches wide.
While researchers aren’t sure how the eggs came to be abandoned, there are two theories to explain it. Some believe that the ancient dinosaurs laid several clutches of eggs, then abandoned them to fend for themselves. This is seen with some species today, including sea turtles.
But others believe the ancient predators were as attentive as penguins and alligators, guarding their eggs from predators until they hatched. But after that, the baby dinosaurs were likely on their own. Ribeiro and his team found no evidence that a mother dinosaur fed her young or protected the ancient nest.
[Image via Wikimedia Commons]