Egg Thieves: A Case of Mistaken Identity
known oviraptorosaur skeleton, discovered in Mongolia in 1923,
was found atop a clutch of dinosaur eggs thought to belong
to the early horned dinosaur Protoceratops. Paleontologists
therefore concluded that this theropod had died in the act
of raiding a Protoceratops nest. This led to its being
named Oviraptor philoceratops – literally, “egg
thief who prefers horned dinosaurs.” It is from this
dinosaur that the entire oviraptorosaur group takes its name.
1990s, further expeditions to Mongolia turned up many more
dinosaur fossils. However, paleontologists were shocked by
what they found: a supposed “Protoceratops”
egg with a baby oviraptorosaur
inside! So the eggs that paleontologists originally thought
belonged to horned dinosaurs actually belonged to oviraptorosaurs.
same time, a spectacular oviraptorosaur skeleton was discovered
with its arms outstretched around a nest. The 22 eggs in this
nest were the same kind as those that contained the baby oviraptorosaur...they
were oviraptorosaur eggs! Since it’s not very likely
that a parent would raid the nest of its own species, that
adult appears to have died guarding its nest.