Unique eggshells that are 70 million years old, laid by the Saltasaurus. This dinosaur inhabited what is now Argentina and is known as the armored plate dinosaur. Read more.
Discovery and Naming of the Saltasaurus
The Saltasaurus owes its name to the province of Salta in Argentina, where the first fossils were discovered in the 1970s. The Saltasaurus is a dinosaur that belongs to the group of Sauropoda. The name Saltasaurus loricatus, given in 1980 by the paleontologist José Fernando Bonaparte, means 'provided with armor plates' in Latin, referring to the distinctive features of this dinosaur. Although three species within the Saltasaurus genus have been described, the last two species are usually classified in another genus, the Neuquensaurus.
Despite the Saltasaurus being a relatively small sauropod, with a maximum body length of about eight and a half meters, this dinosaur was robustly built with short, but powerful legs. The most striking feature of the Saltasaurus was its armor, consisting of skin ossifications, also known as osteoderms. This made the Saltasaurus unique, as it was the first time there was indisputable evidence that sauropods could have a skin armor.
Lifestyle of the Saltasaurus
The Saltasaurus was a herbivore that mainly fed on ground plants. Its body structure, including the length of the neck and limbs, suggests that the Saltasaurus did not often rise on its hind legs. This dinosaur had a horizontal posture and a relatively low vertical reach. Although the Saltasaurus was not the largest sauropod and was not capable of running, it was well adapted to its environment. The armor probably served as protection against predators, while younger, less armored animals may have been protected by older animals in the herd.
Saltasaurus Nest and Eggs
In Auca Mahuevo, in Patagonia, Argentina, various nesting sites of the Saltasaurus have been found with fossilized eggs inside. This indicates that the females dug holes with their hind legs where they laid on average 25 eggs, about 11 to 12 cm in diameter. The nest was then buried under sand and vegetation. These eggshells have fossilized and are about 70 million years old!