Colonial nesting behavior has been inferred in a variety of non-avian dinosaurs based on high concentrations of nests preserved in an area, but sedimentologic and taphonomic evidence demonstrating the contemporaneity of the nests is often lacking. A new nesting site discovered in the Upper Cretaceous Javkhlant Formation of the eastern Gobi Desert, Mongolia, preserves at least 15 egg clutches laid by a probable non-avian theropod, and provides strong evidence for colonial nesting in a non-avian dinosaur. The occurrence of the clutches at the top of a common paleosurface, the distribution of eggshell fragments within clutches, the presence of a consistent two-layer sediment infill within eggs, and a thin marker lithologic unit blanketing all the clutches indicate the clutches were laid and hatched in a single nesting season. Despite the absence of sedimentologic evidence indicative of nest structure, statistical analyses of egg characteristics and facies association reveal the clutches were likely incubated in covered or buried nests. Based on the number of hatched clutches, the hatching success rate of the colony was high (60%), similar to that of extant crocodylian populations and bird species that attend and/or protect their nests during the incubation period, which indicates nest attendance behavior in the Javkhlant theropods. Thus, colonial nesting with parental attendance, widespread in extant birds, likely evolved initially among non-brooding, non-avian dinosaurs to increase nesting success.

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