Scientists from the University of Calgary in Canada have recently made a discovery regarding a subject that had dinosaur experts shake their heads in confusion for quite some time. After studying the fossilized remains of 29 dinosaur species’ nests, as well as those of 120 species of modern birds and reptiles, the Canadian scientists revealed the relationship between dinosaur eggs and their nesting habits.
- The nesting habits of more primitive dinosaurs
- The nesting habits of more advanced dinosaurs
- The evolutionary implications of the discovery
The nesting habits of dinosaurs have baffled experts since forever, mostly due to the fact that intact dinosaur eggs and nests are a very rare encounter.
Studying the relationship between the different fossilized dinosaur eggs and the nests in which they were found, the researchers managed to determine that dinosaurs that laid more porous eggs were more likely to have buried nests in which to hide their offspring before they hatched, while finer, softer eggs were an indication of above-ground, open nesting.
The findings suggests that most types of dinosaurs, just like modern-day crocodiles, not only buried their nests in partially underground nests, but also used sand, dirt and plant life to keep their eggs warm and safe. The eggs buried in this manner presented a more porous shell, in order to facilitate the vapor and gas exchanges between the embryo and the environment.
On the other hand, theropods, a different type of dinosaur more related to modern day birds, just like their contemporary counterparts, used to lay their eggs in more open nests. This helped the bipedal dinosaurs to relocate the aforementioned nests to other, safer locations than the ground. Due to their better exposure to the surrounding air, these eggs were discovered to be less porous than the ones in the partially buried nests.
This discovery is quite important, as it shows the way dinosaurs evolved into their modern day counterparts, be them birds or reptiles, through the evolution of their nests. Even though fully open nests were present in samples analyzed, they were quite rare.
This would indicate that modern-type nesting behaviors were the result of millions of years of evolution, and that even though theropods were on the right track, it took countless generations of their descendants to perfect or at least significantly improve their nests.
One of the best things about this research is the way it shows how little we still know about the things that were going on on our planet’s before we got here. It surely brings us down a peg, doesn’t it?
Image source: www.wikimedia.org