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How do you sit on your nest of eggs when you weigh over 1,500kg?

cientists believe the largest of these dinosaurs arranged their eggs around a central gap in the nest

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How do you sit on your nest of eggs when you weigh over 1,500kg?

cientists believe the largest of these dinosaurs arranged their eggs around a central gap in the nest

16 May 2018 Wednesday 17:46
How do you sit on your nest of eggs when you weigh over 1,500kg?

Carefully - according to a new study from an international team of researchers in Asia and North America.

Dinosaur parenting has been difficult to study, due to the relatively small number of fossils, but the incubating behavior of oviraptorosaurs has now been outlined for the first time.

Scientists believe the largest of these dinosaurs arranged their eggs around a central gap in the nest.

This bore the parent's weight while allowing them to potentially provide body heat or protection to their developing young, without crushing the delicate eggs.

The feathered ancient relatives of modern birds, oviraptorosaurs lived in the Late Cretaceous period, at least 67 million years ago.

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

"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 looked at the shape and size of over 40 different nests, mostly originating in China and Mongolia, in order to determine incubating behavior.

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

The central gap in the nest appeared to increase with increasing species size.

Some studies have suggested that these elongate eggs were likely blue-green in color. The largest ones have the most delicate shells but can weigh over 6kg.

Scientists concluded that the smaller varieties of oviraptorosaur likely sat directly on their clutch of eggs, which would have been layered on top of each other.

The nests of larger species showed a single ring of eggs arranged around a large central gap of earth, which would have supported most of the parent dinosaur's weight.

Commenting on the study, 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 behaviors that allow them to warm or protect their eggs without squashing them with their behemoth bodies."

BBC

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