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Did Osborn Goof? [was Re: Dinosaur FAQ #8]

Ken Kinman (kinman@hotmail.com) wrote:

<...and (2) that oviraptors might have been misnamed, and that
the eggs they were thought to be "stealing" were probably really
their own (at least that's how I understand it).>

  Hmm. Noone's found an oviraptorosaur with an egg in its jaws.
Even so, one can surmise (as I have) that the jaws are built for
crushing something, be it clam- or egg-shell. In fact, as Osborn
(1924) originally suggested [and it was a suggestion] and
further discussed by Barsbold (1977) then refuted by Smith
(1992) [but not sufficiently, in my opinion] the jaws are very
decidedly built for crushing, and the only thing available that
would fit the jaws were eggs or clams. This gives us (as
Barsbold, 1977, suggests) very few possibilities for a diet.
What the AMNH team had done in 1996 was show that the eggs that
oviraptorids were featured as eating were its own. They came to
the conclusion (permissible) that they [oviraptorids] were not
real egg-eaters, but egg-"nurses" (to use Guerney's coinage --
sorry, Brian).

  This does not, however, contradict the morphology of the jaws,
so that, unlike the recent trend in treating oviraptorids as
such friendly, non-devlish "mothers." Yeah, to their own babies,
maybe.... It's not inconceivable that oviraptorids did not prey
on other species' eggs, such as birds, varanids, or even other
contemporary theropods or ornithischians (*Protoceratops,*
*Bagaceratops,* *Breviceratops,* *Pinacosaurus,* *Velociraptor,*
*Byronosaurus,* the Ukhaa Tolgod "dromaeosaurine" and
ornithomimid come to mind), or on other oviraptorids' (there
were more than one species in the Djadokhta or the Barun Goyot,
and probably more than one in the Nemegt).... And that's to say
nothing of caenagnathids, the diets of which have _never_ been
suggested except from the position of Currie et al., 1994, to
relate the environment of *Caenagnathasia* as being restrictive
in diet (however far you want to take a coastal wetland parallel
for the Bissekty that Nessov has).

  So finally, oviraptorids probably did eat eggs.

  PS:  This is not anything against Ken, I just felt that what
  has been misconstrued since 1996 (egg-nurses vs. egg-eaters)
  really needs to be confronted scientifically.

Jaime A. Headden

  Where the Wind Comes Sweeping Down the Pampas!!!!

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