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An international team of scientists, including researchers from the University of Southampton, has shown that fossilised eggshells unearthed in western Romania represent the earliest known nest site shared by multiple animals.
The shells—some complete and others broken into thousands of pieces—are densely packed and encased in mudstone which formed part of the remains of a bird breeding colony, probably comprising hundreds of seperate nests. Now in the collections of the Transylvanian Museum Society in Cluj Napoca, Romania, the samples date from the late-Cretaceous period (approx. 70 million years ago) and were discovered near the city of Sebe? in Transylvania by local palaeontologist Mátyás Vremir about nine years ago.
Centro - Regional - Universitario - Bariloche - Argentina
Led by Centro Regional Universitario Bariloche in Argentina, the scientists examined sophisticated electron microscope images of the unique, fossilised material from the site. They established it contains four different types of egg shell, indicating that four types of animals all shared the same nesting site; extinct birds within a group known as enantiornithes, birds of undetermined classification, gecko-like lizards and smaller predecessors of today's crocodiles.
Christian Laurent, Tizard Scholar and member of the Aerodynamics and Flight Mechanics Group at the University of Southampton, comments: "We know very little about the parental behaviour of Mesozic birds, We know they had nests, laid eggs and hatched young which were relatively mature and able to move around after hatching—but evidence is scant beyond this. This research...
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