Central/Eastern Asia, China, Early Cretaceous, ca. 126 to 101 million years ago. Wow! An incredible find of five juvenile Psittocosaurs, all within a nesting formation, their bodies overlapping but with five skulls clearly visible. Spinal processes, limbs, tails, and rib cages are also well preserved and generally easy to see. A remarkable find demonstrating that juveniles were raised together - a clear sign of the parenting behavior of dinosaurs. Psittacosaurus, a ceratopsian dinosaur who lived in the area that is today Mongolia, Siberia, China, and Thailand, stood on their powerful back legs as adults, with their heads held high. However, when they were young, they were quadrupeds. Their skull resembles that of a parrot - indeed, that is the origin of the name, as parrots are Psittaciformes - with a pronounced beak. Size of fossil bed: 24.25" W x 31.25" H (61.6 cm x 79.4 cm); size of frame: 5.75" L x 28.5" W x 36.5" H (14.6 cm x 72.4 cm x 92.7 cm)
Recent research has given us a better idea of what these animals would have looked like in life if they had made it to adulthood. A Psittacosaurus found in the Yixian Formation of eastern China had some preserved body covering, revealing that the animal was covered in scales and possibly feathers. Another study from two different fossil finds in 2016 revealed that the animal, which would have lived in dense forest, may have had counter shaded coloring, similar to deer, with stripes and spots that camouflaged it. The tail would have had a series of stiff bristles rising from it. In life, this creature would have had large eyes and an excellent sense of smell, its body evolved to evade predators as it browsed the Cretaceous forests. Instead, this group of juveniles were preserved forever in their creche, presumably the result of a flooding event and/or being buried in mud.
Provenance: private California, USA collection, acquired prior to 2009
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Preserved in their original matrix. This is very fragile with hairline cracks across its surface and small losses from the edges. Much original sedimentation is well preserved on the surface, with the skeletons easy to see and well delineated. The edges are wrapped in adhesive and the matrix has been set into a grout and wood frame for preservation.