Nemegtomaia is considered a genus of new oviraptorid dinosaur which was found in southern Mongolia and existed during the late Cretaceous period. Compared to the flightless birds, Nemegtomaia also preferred its diet on the grounds itself as it was a non-avian dinosaur. Nemegtomaia is found in the segments of arid and more humid facies unlike other members of its family.
The original genus, discovered in 1996, was considered as the basis of the new genus and species Barsboldi, found in 2004. Yoshitsugu Kobayashi, a Japanese paleontologist who was a part of the "Mongolian Highland International Project Team" tracked down an incomplete skeleton in the Nemegt formation present in the Gobi desert, Mongolia. The specimen had similar traits to the genus Ingenia. Junchang Lu and his colleagues were the ones to determine that the skeleton represented the Nemegtomaia dinosaur.
The name Nemegtomaia is pronounced as Nem-eg-to-my-ah. The original species was named Nemegtia but soon it was changed to Nemegtomaia since the former name was already taken. It was changed to Nemegtomaia in 2005. The first part of the generic name of the species, Nemegtomaia is in reference to the Nemegt Basin of Mongolia from where the animal was discovered. The second part means good mother since these species of dinosaurs were known for brooding the eggs. The specific name of the dinosaur honors the paleontologist Rinchen Barsbold.
Nemegtomaia is identified as an oviraptorid dinosaur. It is one of the rarest species which falls under this category. It was a type of advanced oviraptorosaur and was most closely related to Citipati. The Nemegtomaia was classified as one of the members of the Oviraptoridae family and the only member of the Ingeniiane subfamily with a prominent crest on its head. The presence of the head crest in the new genus suggests that the feature of such a crest evolved and disappeared several times during the evolution of oviraptorids. Many paleontologists also suggested that the new specimen was not actually an Ingenia. In 2012, Nemegtomaia was pinned as a member of Ingeniinae and closest to Heyuannia, another oviraptorid.
The geological period of the Nemegtomaia is considered to be the late Cretaceous period. They evolved during the Campanian age of the Cretaceous and lived up to the Maastrichtian age. The genus became extinct around 66 million years ago.
Skin beetles are considered the reason behind the extermination of the Nemegtomaia species. But the exact extinction period of the Nemegtomaia has not been recorded by scientists. However, certain sources offer that the dinosaurs living in the Cretaceous period have been extinct around 70 million years ago.
Nemegtomaia dinosaurs supposedly lived in the South-Western part of Mongolia, especially in the Nemegt Basin and Barugoyyot Formations, Gobi Desert.
Nemegtomaia's habitat was mainly terrestrial regardless of having features like modern birds. Nests have been discovered on the grounds which suggest that the Nemegtomaia were flightless dinosaurs who preferred the earth instead of the trees. The environment in the Nemegt Formation was compared to that of the present Bostanwa, it had the perfect habitat to give rise to a number of organisms. The rock formation in the Nemegt basin implies that during the Cretaceous age, the region was associated with rivers and streams and represented a humid fluvial habitat.
No specific resources as to whether this dinosaur lived solo or traveled in groups. But with seeming bird-like features, it can be assumed that Nemegtomaia traveled in groups on certain occasions.
The lifespan of a Nemegtomaia is unknown but it seemingly existed 70 million years ago. They lived from the upper Campanian age of the late Cretaceous up to the lower Maastrichtian age.
Nemegtomaias reproduced by producing eggs thus considering themselves as uncertain species. Fossils have also suggested that the Nemegtomaia used to sit on her ring of eggs with her wings as a shield in order to protect them. The average egg size produced by them was around 6.69 in (17 cm) with a width of 2.7 in (7 cm). One specimen discovered in 2007 was observed to be sitting on top of a nest with eggs. The clutch size of the Nemegtomaia was believed to be similar to the clutch size of modern-day birds and crocodilians. It is believed that they were polygamous in nature while the male parent assumed the responsibility of parental care. This type of reproductive system precedes the origin of the reproductive system of birds and parental care by both parents gradually developed in modern birds from the ancestral oviraptorids. The nesting region was chosen by the adult in such a way that it would not hamper the eggs, it was a mechanism for successful incubation. Paleontologists also suggest that the development of tail feathers in the Oviraptorid dinosaurs like Nemegtomaia was an adaptation to keep the eggs warm.
The Mongolian dinosaur is extremely unique in terms of its look as it contains a black crest, long first finger, and eight sacral vertebrae. It has a deep, narrow skull which is way small if compared to the body. The crest on top of it is extended hindwards and down, which creates a round arch altogether. It has small nostrils which are placed at a high level on the skull itself. Similar to other oviraptorid dinosaurs, the Nemegtomaia has toothless jaws along with a deep, strong parrot-like beak. It also has a concrete palate created by premaxillae and maxillae. However, this palate consists of toothlike projections downwards which touch the lower jaw. The lower jaw is a convex surface that is short and deep. The neural spines of the neck having a short structure provide an x-shaped appearance. The pelvis is very straight and both the present shafts are not combined together. Also, having a comparatively longer thigh and short legs along with a mini tail, Nemegtomaia can be considered as an oviraptorid dinosaur. Being one of the oviraptorids, the Nemegtomaia was a type of feathered dinosaur but they were non-avian bird-like creatures.
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Both the specimens of MPC-D 107/15 and 107/16 show different structures but a similar sum of bones. MPC-D 107/16 has a partial skeleton compared to MPC-D 107/15 as well as other dinosaurs. The neck curves and the complete skull seem to be placed much lower than the whole body. The frontal bone of the skull was about 25% of the length if compared to the parietal bone. The right forearm and slightly longer thigh bone can be checked out in a dorsal manner. The forelimbs do not lead to a lateral extension, unlike other oviraptorid dinosaurs. Overall, it is very difficult to find out the total bone count of the Nemegtomia since complications are still present in the dorsal and vertebrae.
The ways of communication by Nemegtomaia have not been recognized. Oviraptorids had a tendency to use their feathers by changing their colors in order to imply their own feelings or messages to others. The display organs such as the crest were also utilized to indicate a certain issue. However, the mediums of connecting by other dinosaurs, which include roars, hooting, and posing, can be applicable for the Nemegtomaia as well.
A Nemegotomaia is supposed to be 7 ft (2.13 m) long which means that it can be considered as a medium-sized dinosaur. Compared to other oviraptorid dinosaurs, it has shorter vertebrae which bring about a decrease in size.
Considering it as a flightless creature along with short yet strong legs, the Nemegtomaia would be able to travel a huge distance at a very fast speed. However, scientists have not recorded the limited timespan of the speed covered by the dinosaur.
An estimated weight of 85 lb (38.5 kg) has been identified. This shows how the dinosaur is lightweight and could travel faster as compared to other creatures.
Names have not been provided separately to the male and female segments of the species. But the females when pregnant would travel down to streamlines, which brings about a major difference between the male and the female sexes.
A baby Nemegtomaia is often known as a young Nemegtomaia. But no separate terms or scientific names have been provided for a baby dinosaur.
It can be assumed that the female Nemegtomaia were more aggressive than the male ones. New specimens in order to protect their ring of eggs have preferred biting as a medium of attack. Biting for their own territory marks them as greedy creatures too.
Nemegtomaia had received its name before its fossils were discovered. It was originally named Nemegtia in 2004. But later in 2005, scientists had discovered that the name was already assigned to another set of species which made them modify the title.
The Nemegtomaia has the strongest claw bone out of all the dinosaurs. Out of the three fingers, it was present in the first and could have been used in order to hunt its prey.
The new specimens discovered recently seem to represent the fourth genus of Nemegtomaia.
In 2007, two new specimens were collected in the Nemegt Basin in the "Dinosaurs Of The Gobi" expedition mainly comprising paleontologists such as Federico Fanti and Dong Z. The first specimen MPC-D 107/15, nicknamed Mary, consisted of a parent with eggs underneath her. This fossil was excavated under tough conditions which included sand block collapses. The second specimen known as MPC-D 107/16, discovered by Nicholas R. Longrich, was comprised of hands, ribs, caudal vertebrae, femora, and a partial pelvis. It is still a mystery whether the hands belong to the same specimen only as the skeleton was uncovered with other multiple skeletons.