Sauropods were standing out from other dinosaurs for having long necks, long tails, and small heads. Belonging to the saurischian clade, sauropods first evolved during the Early Jurassic Epoch – 201 million to 174 million years ago. These creatures were also huge, as the larger species like the Apatosaurus was usually reaching lengths of 21 meters.
But a team of scientists led by Martin Kundrat from Pavol Jozef Šafárik University (Slovakia) discovered a new egg fossil in Patagonia (Argentina) containing a baby sauropod. They concluded that the creature doesn’t match the expected appearance of his parents.
Behold the rhino-type horn
The largest group of sauropods is represented by Titanosaurus, and the baby dinosaur qualifies very well for both types. But what stunned scientists at the baby dinosaur are the presence of a facial horn and eyes that made possible stereoscopic vision. The scientists believe that these characteristics disappear once the sauropod babies become adults.
Kundrat, the lead author, declared:
“Titanosaur babies were on their own right after hatching,”
“They had to search for their food and defend themselves—two of the most important survival activities.”
Titanosaurus reptiles were so huge, that the biggest one discovered had the weight of 69 tons, which practically means one dozen Asian elephants. As that sample holds the title of the largest dinosaur on record, the previous record holder is another Titanosaur known as Argentinosaurus hiunculensis. One Titanosaur usually had the mass of 13,000 kg and measuring between 9 to 12 meters in length. These imposing creatures lived during the Berriasian – Maastrichtian, which means between 145 million and 66 million years ago. There’s no wonder why the Titanosaurus reptiles were also called Titanic lizards – they resembled lizards, only that they were tremendously larger.
The new research of the unexpected baby sauropod was published in Current Biology here: https://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(20)31150-7