Strength in Numbers

Look: Fossil haul reveals earliest evidence of dinosaurs living in groups

Follow the herd!

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Just like countless species alive today, some dinosaurs were social creatures that lived together in groups.

Jorge Gonzalez

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Expansive bone beds where paleontologists have unearthed several members of the same species show they died — and probably lived — side-by-side.

Now, a fossil haul from Argentina gives researchers the oldest evidence that dinosaurs lived in herds.

An October 21 study in the journal Scientific Reports described the findings of over 150 fossils dating back 193 million years.

Jorge Gonzalez

The fossils belong to a large species of sauropodomorphs known as Mussaurus patagonicus.

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Jorge Gonzalez

Mussaurus was a herbivorous giant that lived during the Triassic period.

Diego Pol

Paleontologists uncovered 69 remains from individual Mussaurus dinosaurs and 100 eggs.

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They also found that the remains of neonates, juveniles, and adults were clustered together, suggesting that Mussaurus may have split up into age-specific groups in their herd.

Living in herds likely gave sauropodomorphs an evolutionary advantage, the researchers say.

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Research suggests that Mussaurus predated larger, four-legged sauropods, and their group living may have been the key to their increase in size.

Sociality may have influenced the early success of the first global radiation of large-bodied herbivorous dinosaurs.”

Study authors

Roger Smith

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Because they lived and foraged closely together, Mussasaurs wouldn’t have needed to expend as much individual energy to find sustenance while travelling long distances.

That likely led to their body size getting larger over time.

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Even early animals understood that there’s strength in numbers.