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Re: triceratops question

Christopher Tingley wrote:

> One of my dino video tapes says that triceratops protected its young by
>> keeping them in the center of the herd. I want to know if there is
>any fossil > evidence that shows this could be true?

No, Christopher, there is no fossil evidence to support this idea. And even
though many books (and your video) still write about and show illustrations
of this behavior, it never happened because it doesn't make any sense as a
behavior for horned dinosaurs. In the present day, musk oxen protect their
young from wolves in this manner. But musk oxen live in very open areas
with little plant-life to provide a place to hide. _Triceratops_ and other
horned dinosaurs, on the other hand, lived in heavily-wooded areas and
wouldn't need to evolve the type of behavior we see in musk oxen. It is
also a mistake to use the *specific* behavior of an unrelated type of
animal (in this case the musk ox, a mammal) to illustrate the behavior of
an entirely different type of animal (dinosaurs). We can see some evidence
for specific dinosaur behavior in fossils: they laid eggs, they took care
of their young in the nest, they gathered together in groups... These are
general types of behavior, though, and the only other type of behaviors for
dinosaurs that we might speculate about that make sense are the types of
behaviors we can see in their living relatives, the crocodiles (dinosaur
ancestors) and the birds (dinosaur descendants). Dinosaurs did not behave
like mammals.

Brian Franczak (franczak@ntplx.net)