SAUROPOD EGGS FROM THE APTIAN-ALBIAN CERRO BARCINO FORMATION, CHUBUT (PATAGONIA, ARGENTINA): A PALEOENVIRONMENTAL AND PALEOBIOLOGICAL ENIGMA. Here are described the first eggs and eggshell fragments from the Lower Cretaceous Chubut province. The two eggs and eggshell materials come from the Huaniman locality at the north-central region of Chubut. In this paper, we provide a paleontological description of the materials to infer their paleoenvironmental setting and we offer a morphological comparison with other South American dinosaur eggs. The egg materials were found in fine tuffaceous sandstone from a proximal floodplain deposits associated to sinuous and multi-episodic river channels, belonging to the Cerro Castaño Member (Aptian-Albian; Cerro Barcino Formation). The eggshell morphology is similar to that of megaloolithid eggs (a paraphyletic group in egg parataxonomy) known from Patagonia such as Auca Mahuevo, Neuquen, positively identified as sauropod titanosaurs on the basis of in ovo embryos, and Salitral Moreno, Rio Negro. However, the new specimens from Chubut exhibit structural features of the eggshell not previously reported such as a horizontal network of pore canals clearly visible near and beneath the outer nodular eggshell surface, similar in morphology but differently placed than in the Auca Mahuevo eggs —where it overlays the membrana testacea. This morphological feature and the 1.5 mm thick eggshell may illustrate a novel adaptation to this specific nesting environment. Although only two isolated eggs were found in Huaniman, this discovery suggests the potential for the existence of a more substantial nesting site in the area.
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Vol. 50 • No. 1