Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Did Mom or Dad Incubate Dinosaur Eggs?

About 15 feet tall and 40 feet long, Tyrannosaurus rex, whose name means “king of the tyrant lizards,” is one of the largest known land predators to ever roam the Earth.

Male and female dinosaurs may have shared the responsibility of incubating their offspring, but how to determine which parent was involved remains a mystery, according to a new study that re-examines the idea that the brooding behavior of modern birds may predict similar behavior in their dinosaur ancestors.

Modern birds are thought to have evolved from theropods, a group of carnivorous dinosaurs that include such recognizable predators as the Velociraptor and Tyrannosaurus rex.

In research published in the journal Science in 2009, scientists examined the way existing birds incubate their eggs, claiming that only male theropods took part in incubation. But the study, which compared the size of male and female birds with the size and number of eggs that were laid, omits some important factors, said Geoff Birchard, a professor in the department of environmental science and policy at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., and co-author of the new study. [Image Gallery: Dinosaur Daycare]

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