Dinosaur eggs and reproduction

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Dinosaur Jungle   >   Dinosaur Facts   >   Eggs


Dinosaur Eggs

Dinosaurs reproduced by laying eggs. Some dinosaurs seem to have laid their eggs and then left them, whereas others seem to have incubuated their eggs and looked after their young in a similar way to modern birds. We know about this behavior because scientists have found fossilized dinosaur eggs, and of dinosaur nests:
Fossilized dinosaur eggs in the Kunming Natural History Museum of Zoology
  • Fossilized eggs of Camarasaurus have been found arranged in lines (and not in nest). From this evidence, scientists believe that Camarasaurus, did not tend to their young. It is also thought like that neither did other Sauropod dinosaurs.

  • In the case of another Sauropod dinosaur, Saltasaurus, hundreds of eggs (which must have been from many different females) were found buried together. From this it is thought that the animal must have lived in herds. The burying of many eggs together would have probably have increased the hatchling's chances of survival.

  • The eggs and nests of Protoceratops were the first dinosaur eggs and nests found. In the case of Protoceratops, the eggs were carefully laid in spirals, with upto 18 eggs in each nest.

  • When Maiasaura nests and eggs were found (in 1978 by "Jack" Horner and Robert Makela), they were found to be mounds of mud, with a depression in the center, and each containing 30 to 40 eggs. Although Maiasaura is not thought to have sat on its nests (instead the eggs would have been incubated by the heat from rotting vegetation), it is thought that Maiasaura did tend to its young: Baby Maiasaura hatchlings have been found which were incapable of walking but nevertheless had worn teeth - indicating that adults must have brought food to the nest.

  • Massospondylus eggs also suggest that this dinosaur cared for its young. In the case of Massospondylus, eggs near to hatching have been found, and these suggest that the hatchlings would have been born with no teeth and incapable of feeding themselves - indicating that the parents must have tended to their young.

  • A number of different dinosaurs have been characterized as probably eating other dinosaur's eggs. These include Chirostenotes, Gallimimus, Ornithomimus, and Oviraptor. In the case of Oviraptor, this may be a particularly unfair characterization (which is especially ironic given that its name means "egg thief"), since there is good evidence that Oviraptor nested and cared for its own eggs - and thus the nest and eggs it has been found close to, may have been its own.

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