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Re: Little skulls...

Samuel Barnett wrote:

> Conversely, we may get a better hint of cuckoo behaviour if:
> 1)    it turns out that velociraptor eggs are bigger than oviraptor
> eggs
> (instilling a maternal preference in the oviraptor mother to care for
> this
> egg more than the others)
> 2)    Or if, likewise, the Velociraptor hatchlings are bigger and
> resemble
> the Ovi chicks in some way, ie teeth develop later in dromaeosaurs
> and so do
> reinforced hardened "beaks" in oviraptors giving a generalised
> appearance to
> both.

The only nest parasite I'm remotely familiar with is the European
cuckoo.  In this species the eggs are disproportionately small, to
mimic host eggs.  However, the hatchlings grow larger than the host
chicks, are often larger than the host adults by the time they leave
the nest.

I've heard of some research indicating host birds are good at
distinguishing foreign-looking eggs, but very bad at recognising alien
chicks.  Some other birds, such as ducks, seem to accept foreign chicks
easily, so perhaps this is a general avian trait.

Whether Oviraptor had the same cognitive abilities I don't know, but
there's no reason it should have been the opposite.

Bill Adlam
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