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Re: Origin of feathers

Jaime Headden wrote:
>  How then, would *Oviraptor* have covered the laterally lying eggs? If
>contact occured between dino and egg as seen within the nest, then did
>this mean the eggs were exposed, or was the contact accidental? If
>exposed, the eggs would have fried within their shells. Not very
>productive to survival of the species, when one lays extra eggs just to
>boil them. Now, if not exposed, can we think of a bird that sits on a
>nest of buried eggs? The cassowary builds a mound, and occasionally sits
>on it, but this mound has the eggs far below the surface, and as far as
>we can tell, any pre-sandslide covering the eggs would ahve had would
>have been thin.

I must admit I'm rather confused about some of the details. Various people
who I expect to know far more than I do have said that the eggs were or
were not buried in sand in the nest before they were covered by the
landslide (or whatever event fossilized the nest). I don't know who's right.

One suggestion has been that multiple animals laid the eggs, and one stayed
with the nest, brooding, guarding or whatever. To toss out another
scenario, suppose Oviraptor covered the eggs to protect them from
egg-snatchers as well as the environment. The arms seem to encircle the
nest; anything trying to snatch an egg from the obvious direction (above)
would touch either the arm or a (hypothetical) feather, alerting the
Oviraptor on the nest.

The reconstructions I've seen make it seem that Oviraptor's arms encircle
the eggs symmetrically. That position is unlikely if the animal was sitting
in the middle of a ring of eggs with its arms in any other position when
the landslide or sandstorm hit. So we need to explain the arm position, and
see if feathers could help do that.

The suggestion that Oviraptor might have been laying eggs is interesting.
Can you tell anything about the possibility from the position of the
skeleton and the eggs?

-- Jeff Hecht