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RE: Seasonal "Day Care" Hypothesis for Maiasaura

Perhaps extremely difficult to test and falsify, but perhaps not impossible given enough information (eventually). For instance, if you found all the "migrating" Maiasaura were females and all (or most) Maiasaura lying on top of unhatched mounds were males, that would narrow down the choices significantly to my hypothesis and perhaps a few alternatives.
If we will be luckily enough to discover such evidence (if it exists) is anybody's guess. But given the large numbers of Maiasaura, it would certainly be more likely than most other dinosaurs to reveal such behavioral mysteries. But maybe I am being overly optimistic.
From: "Thomas R. Holtz, Jr." <tholtz@geol.umd.edu>
Reply-To: tholtz@geol.umd.edu
To: <kinman@hotmail.com>, <dinosaur@usc.edu>
Subject: RE: Seasonal "Day Care" Hypothesis for Maiasaura
Date: Tue, 9 Jan 2001 09:16:20 -0500

> From: owner-dinosaur@usc.edu [mailto:owner-dinosaur@usc.edu]On Behalf Of
> Ken Kinman
>     I named it the Seasonal "Day Care" Hypothesis.  Just before
> migrating on
> to greener pastures, the Maiasaura herd would lay their eggs in the same
> spot they had for generations (in a sandy coastal area).
> However, although
> most of the herd would then migrate to distant feeding areas, it seems
> reasonable to me that some small number would stay behind to
> guard the site
> against egg robbers (at least minimize the damage they might do).  The
> numbers of "guards" would not have to be very large, and couldn't be too
> large as to overgraze the area in a time of scarcity (and if
> necessary they
> could work in shifts to graze in areas further away).


>                Criticism welcome,  Ken Kinman

Just this: how would you test this?

Plausible, sure, but without some way of testing this is idle speculation
(which, granted, you admitted at the beginning).

And therein lies the problem with a lot of paleobehavioral studies: the
hypotheses proposed may not be unreasonable, but there is no way given the
evidence in hand that we could falsify it. Hence, despite the public's (and
documentarian's and kids' books editor's... :-) fascination with the subject
and the fact we'd REALLY like to know the answer to some of these questions,
paleobehavior largely lies outside the realm of science. Those aspects of
paleobehavior that have the potential for distinctive perservable landmarks
(hard tissue ecomorphology) or which otherwise might have some distinct
taphonomic signature (e.g., brooding vs. nest mound building) have a better
chance of being tested.

              Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
              Vertebrate Paleontologist
Department of Geology          Director, Earth, Life & Time Program
University of Maryland         College Park Scholars
              College Park, MD  20742
Phone: 301-405-4084    Email:  tholtz@geol.umd.edu
Fax (Geol):  301-314-9661      Fax (CPS-ELT): 301-405-0796

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