Male dinos may have been prehistoric babysitters

December 19th, 2008 - 12:22 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Dec 19 (ANI): A new study has indicated that ferocious meat-eating male dinosaurs possibly had a softer side as well, as they might have been sort of prehistoric babysitters.

The study was conducted by Jason Moore, a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Geology and Geophysics, and team members from Montana State University, Florida State University and the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

The team discovered that some types of male dinosaurs probably cared for and watched over eggs in much the same way that females of other species do.

Moore and the research team examined six nests of well-preserved dinosaur eggs, with each nest containing from 22 to 30 eggs found in Montana and Mongolia. Most of the eggs were about 75 million years old.

Numerous clues, including the size of the eggs and the internal structure of the adult bones found sitting on the eggs, indicate that males, not females, likely watched over the eggs and served in a nanny-like function as the eggs slowly developed.

The bones we found closest to the eggs dont display characteristics of female dinosaurs, Moore said of the findings.

We have looked at some other modern-day animals for similarities as well, including crocodiles, turtles, snakes and others, and asked the question in each case, Which of the parents were taking care of the eggs? Comparing these modern animals to dinosaurs, the evidence all points to the males as the ones who likely cared for the eggs, he explained.

The team examined three types of dinosaurs Troodon, Oviraptor and Citipati.

According to Moore, the lack of any cavities (formed by the females when laying eggs) in the bones of the dinosaurs that were sitting on the eggs is a strong indicator that males, not females, were caring for the eggs.

Its believed the females were focused strictly on the feeding and egg laying, he said. And more and more evidence points to the male as the egg caretaker, he added.

If its true that the males were principally focused on caring for the eggs, it leads to the question of what other species might have done the same thing? It raises other important questions about the behavioral characteristics of males in other species, Moore said. (ANI)

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