One of the rarest discoveries ever made was the fossilized remains of a dinosaur nest containing 15 infant dinosaurs. The fossilized remains may have been as old as 80 million years.
The discovery was made in 2011 in Mongolia and reported in the Journal of Paleontology. According to the scientists, the infant dinosaurs died as they were entombed by sand while still alive.
The dinosaurs were called Protoceratops. Protoceratops were sheep-sized herbivores that lived in the Upper Cretaceous Period in the region of what is now Mongolia.
The remains of the 15 dinosaurs were found crowded in a single nest. They had lived in a harsh environment. The region was known for its hot temperatures and its windblown sand dunes. Some of the dunes would have reached 80 feet and the area resembled the Sahara Desert.
Although the infant dinosaurs were exposed to harsh conditions, scientists believe that they were cared for by their parents. Since the infant dinosaurs were found in the initial stages of postnatal development in the same nest, their parents must have actively cared for them.
Still, the high number of infant dinosaurs in one nest could imply that dinosaur mortality was high in the area and the species evolved to reproduce large clutches of infants.
In addition to the harsh climate, the infant Protoceratops would have been exposed to other dangers including predators. The most likely predators of the Protoceratops would have been the flesh-eating theropod dinosaurs.
The fossilized remains of the dinosaur nest are currently being held by the Mongolian Academy of Sciences.