Dinosaur parenting: How the 'chickens from hell' nested

Dinosaur parenting: How the ‘chickens from hell’ nested

Two oviraptorosaurs - one sits on a clutch of eggs, the other stands byImage copyright
Zhao Chuang

How do you sit in your nest of eggs if you weigh over 1,500kg?

Carefully – in response to a brand new examine from a world crew of researchers in Asia and North America.

Dinosaur parenting has been troublesome to check, resulting from the comparatively small variety of fossils, however the incubating behaviour of oviraptorosaurs has now been outlined for the first time.

Scientists consider the largest of those dinosaurs organized their eggs round a central hole in the nest.

This bore the mum or dad’s weight, whereas permitting them to doubtlessly present physique warmth or safety to their creating younger, with out crushing the delicate eggs.

The feathered historic kin of recent birds, oviraptorosaurs lived in the Late Cretaceous interval, no less than 67 million years in the past.

Their bony crests and lengthy, lizard-like tails led one species, Anzu wyliei, to be dubbed the “chicken from hell.

Image copyright
Kohei Tanaka

Image caption

A 60cm diameter nest – a few of the mum or dad’s weight would have rested on the eggs

“It’s a really interesting group of dinosaurs,” examine co-author Darla Zelenitsky from the University of Calgary advised BBC News.

“Most of them were of small size so probably 100kg or less. They’re very bird-like; they have a very parrot-like skull. While they are relatively rare, there are a number of interesting specimens.”

The group checked out the form and dimension of over 40 completely different nests, largely originating in China and Mongolia, with a purpose to decide incubating behaviour.

They discovered that clutch diameter ranged from 35cm in smaller species to 330cm in the largest, Macroelongatoolithus.

The central hole in the nest appeared to extend with rising species dimension.

Image copyright
Kohei Tanaka

Image caption

The nest of a giant oviraptorosaur – there’s a massive central opening for the mum or dad to take a seat on

This adaptation is just not seen in birds.

“It’s pretty much only found, from what we’ve seen, in this group. They’ve got these very elongate eggs. So it’s pretty much unique to them,” noticed Dr Zelenitsky.

Some studies have advised that these elongate eggs have been doubtless blue-green in color. The largest ones have the most delicate shells, however can weigh over 6kg.

Scientists concluded that the smaller forms of oviraptorosaur doubtless sat straight on their clutch of eggs, which might have been layered on prime of one another.

The nests of bigger species confirmed a single ring of eggs organized round a big central hole of earth, which might have supported most of the mum or dad dinosaur’s weight.

Image copyright
Masato Hattori.

Image caption

Illustration: nesting behaviours of enormous and small oviraptorosaurs

Commenting on the examine, Dr Lindsay Zanno from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences described it as “simple, yet elegant.”

“Dinosaur nests are particularly valuable because they give us insight into how dinosaurs evolved… adopting behaviours that allow them to warm or protect their eggs without squashing them with their behemoth bodies.”

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