Many readers will probably be familiar with the fact that we do have good evidence for dinosaurs not only making, but also caring for nests, not least because in examples like this one, we actually have an adult dinosaur sitting on a nest of eggs. This is the famous ‘Big Mama’ specimen of an oviraptorosaur (this one is actually a Citipati, not an Oviraptor as is often said) sitting on a large nest of eggs. Actually, that’s not quite true, this is a really brilliantly made cast of the original, but you can barely tell that even from very close up, and regardless it’s still a famous specimen and not that often illustrated, so here it is. Well, after the page break, obviously.
It’s usually pretty much standard at this point to rake up the old ‘Oviraptor’ was named wrong canard, so I will, before turning it back on itself again. For those who don’t know the name Oviraptor roughly translates as ‘egg thief’ because the first specimens found were in association with eggs which were thought to belong to the small herbivore Protoceratops. Of course in hindsight it is clear that these animals were probably the parents sticking to their nests rather than opportunists caught in the act, which has been even further emphasised by the discovery of oviraptorosaur embryos in some of those eggs. However, oviraptorosaurs were probably largely omnivorous and I’d be surprised if they didn’t take eggs when they were available – even some pretty ‘herbivorous’ animals are quite happy to eat eggs when available (just like some vegetarians). As a result, while the name is based on a misconception of the fossils and certainly and exaggeration, I’m pretty sure oviraptorosaurs stole and ate eggs on occasion.
Just a short post this time out so I’ll leave it there for dinosaur eggs and nests, and for that matter names and theropod ecology. I’ll return to all of these themes at some point, and some sooner than others I expect (hint-hint).
While the photo was taken by me, I have graciously been given permission to post this by the Fukui Prefectual Museum. Please do not reproduce this.