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Oviraptor brooding, various implications



The new Oviraptor on the nest has its arms drapped around the eggs in a
classic brooding posture, and the egg ring was complete. Egg laying was
probably already finished (and could have included eggs from various females,
as per some ratites). 

It has been suggested that the Oviraptor was shading the eggs rather than
keeping them warm. It is possible that this was true at that moment of death,
but exposed eggs will suffer from the cool night unless kept warm

. Since the oviraptors were nesting in a desert where night temperatures were
probably low even in the summer, this would be an important concern. All
brooded eggs are therefore warmed as well as shaded. It is therefore probable
that the brooding theropod was generating high levels of heat at least at
night. Pythons brood eggs, but their method of using musclular contractions
of a long sinuous body appears ill suited for a theropod. It is more likely
that the oviraptor was producing heat in a more avian manner.

It is interesting that the body and arms did not entirely cover the eggs.
This hints that insulation was present to cover the eggs for both heat
retention, and shading, as in birds. It is frustrating that two new European
theropods appear to have integument preserved, but neither has been described
in detail.

GSPaul