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Dinosaur
News
Oldest Reptilian Nests Found in Arizona
October 28, 1998

The world's oldest reptilian nests, dating from 200 million years ago during the Triassic period, were discovered in Arizona's Petrified Forest National Park.

Geologist Stephen Hasiotis discovered 62 fossilized, bowl-like nests, which were holes made in the sand that turned into stone over the millennia. No eggs or even shell fragments were found in any of the nests, which were originally made along the sandy banks of an ancient river. Overlying the nests were much larger depressions in the sand which were probably body pits in which the mother reptile sat.

The nests were probably dug out in the sand by now-extinct phytosaurs (which resembled crocodiles but were not that closely related to them) or aëtosaurs (which were well-armored and spiked land-dwelling creatures that superficially resembled crocodiles).

Hasiotis found the nest site in 1996 and was later helped by Anthony Martin of Emory University in dating and identifying the nests. Their work was presented at the meeting of the Geological Society of America in Toronto, Canada this week.

These nests are twice as old as any other known reptilian nest, which was a sea turtle nest from eastern Colorado, about 110 million years old.

RELATED LINKS
More information on nests and other trace fossils.

A page on dinosaur nests and eggs.

Information on the Triassic period.

Other fossils found in North America.

Chart of geological time


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