Apr. 18, 2013 — A small, bird-like North American dinosaur incubated its eggs in a similar way to brooding birds -- bolstering the evolutionary link between birds and dinosaurs, researchers at the
University of Calgary
study have found. Montana State University
Among the many mysteries paleontologists have tried to uncover is how dinosaurs hatched their young. Was it in eggs completely buried in nest materials, like crocodiles? Or was it in eggs in open or non-covered nests, like brooding birds?
Using egg clutches found in
and Montana, researchers Darla Zelenitsky at
the University of Calgary and David Varricchio at closely
examined the shells of fossil eggs from a small meat-eating dinosaur
called Troodon. Montana State
In a finding published in the spring issue of Paleobiology, they concluded that this specific dinosaur species, which was known to lay its eggs almost vertically, would have only buried the egg bottoms in mud.
"Based on our calculations, the eggshells of Troodon were very similar to those of brooding birds, which tells us that this dinosaur did not completely bury its eggs in nesting materials like crocodiles do," says study co-author Zelenitsky, assistant professor of geoscience.
"Both the eggs and the surrounding sediments indicate only partial burial; thus an adult would have directly contacted the exposed parts of the eggs during incubation," says lead author Varricchio, associate professor of paleontology.
Varricchio says while the nesting style for Troodon is unusual, "there are similarities with a peculiar nester among birds called the Egyptian Plover that broods its eggs while they're partially buried in sandy substrate of the nest."