Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Six Oviraptors a-laying...

Looking for a cheap gift? Buy this positively Luis Rey-ian nesting Oviraptor for someone you feel affection for.
Speaking of Rey and Oviraptor, one thing I love about Gee and Rey's largely speculative A Field Guide to Dinosaurs is the description of Oviraptor's nesting habits. Gee writes that Oviraptor and Protoceratops nest in mixed colonies, and that one way Oviraptor pays its keep is by preying on small mammals and reptiles, potential egg-stealers. It's a bit of dino-humor, because Oviraptor literally means "egg-thief," based on the fact that the original fossil was found near a nest of what were believed to be Protoceratops eggs. We've found fossils of brooding oviraptorids (as well as actual fossilized embryos in their eggs), so the name isn't quite accurate anymore.

Then again, that little contradiction may not matter at all. The only specimen we have of Oviraptor philoceratops itself has a badly damaged skull which does not bear the kind of crest you see in the model above. That head more looks like that of the closely related Citipati. And the brooding oviraptorids? They're all Citipatis. My guess is that the people at Safari, makers of the figure, chose name recognition over accuracy here.

O. philoceratops nest at the AMNH, via Wikimedia Commons. Uploaded by FunkMonk

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