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Re: Psittacosaurus adult found with 34 juveniles

Hey listers,

    I saw this specimen in Japan recently before it was put on display.  I 
assume I can start to share photographs now that it is published.  Here are a 
few thoughts:

     After staring at it for a few hours, I've concluded that there is little 
chance of fraud.  The lithology appears inconsistent with transport (e.g. fine 
grain sediments).  Also, while paleo-topography was hard to visually confirm 
from the sediments (i.e. whether there was an obvious ground plane), the fully 
articulated skeletons did appear to be in contact with a nest-shaped 
depression.  So it really looks like 34 baby psittacosaurs in a nest.  

     That being said, unless the babies were born the size of a thimble and had 
already increased in size 10-fold, it's hard to understand how they could have 
all come out of one animal.  Maybe extremely delaid incubation and simultaneous 
hatching could explain it (they were pretty close in size), but it seems more 
likely that the juveniles were from more than one animal, so my best guess is 
we are seeing communal nesting.  Ostriches engage in communal parental care, so 
it doesn't require lots of smarts to pull off.

VERY cool specimen.

Scott Hartman
Zoology & Physiology
University of Wyoming
Laramie, WY 82070

(307) 742-3799