Dinosaurs Behaviour

Dinosaur Babies

Are there any examples of the dinosaur parenting care methods?

Yes, there are some examples of parental care methods that scientists have painstakingly pieced together, mostly from known fossil nesting sites around the world. The first example is the Orodromeus, an ornithopod that lived in Montana during the Cretaceous. This dinosaur laid its eggs in spirals, with the large ends up and tilted towards the center; the average clutch included 12 eggs. The young hatched with well-developed limb bones and joints, suggesting they could walk almost immediately. This is supported by the low number of crushed eggs in the nest site, indicating the young left quickly. Fossil evidence shows the young stayed in groups, but it is not known for how long.

The Maiasaura were also ornithropods in Montana during the Cretaceous. These dinosaurs made nests in shallow holes that were spaced apart from the surrounding nests by about the length of an adult dinosaur. On average, there were 17 eggs per clutch. The fossil evidence to date suggests that the hatchlings had poorly formed limb joints, which meant the young had to stay in the nest for an extended period of time. This conclusion is supported by the numerous fossils of hatchlings found in the nests, along with trampled and crushed eggs. This means that the young Maiasaura needed a large amount of parental care and attention, with some estimates having the young staying in the nest for approximately eight to nine months.

Another Cretacious period dinosaur, the Oviraptor, was a theropod living in what is now Mongolia. One of the most exciting recent fossil finds is that of an Oviraptor in a nesting position, suggesting a brooding behavior similar to modern birds. In contrast to this nurturing attitude, the Coelophysis—theropods of the Triassic period found in Arizona—probably ate their young, as seen in many fossil remains.


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