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[dinosaur] Oviraptorid nesting biology with hatching asynchrony (free pdf)

Ben Creisler

Free pdf:

Tzu-Ruei Yang, Thomas Engler, Jens N Lallensack, Adun Samathi, Malgorzata Makowska & Burkhard Schillinger (2019)
Hatching asynchrony in oviraptorid dinosaurs sheds light on their unique nesting biology .
Integrative Organismal Biology, obz030
doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/iob/obz030

Dinosaur nesting biology has been an intriguing research topic, though dinosaur behaviors were relatively less illuminated because of the constraints of the fossil record. For instance, hatching asynchrony, where eggs in a single clutch hatch at different times, is unique to modern neoavian birds but was also suggested to be present in oviraptorid dinosaurs based on a possible partial clutch of four embryo-containing eggs from Mongolia. Unfortunately, unequivocal evidence for the origination of these eggs from a single clutch is lacking. Here we report a new, better preserved partial oviraptorid clutch with three embryo-containing eggs--a single egg (egg I) and a pair (egg II/III)--from the Late Cretaceous Nanxiong Group of Jiangxi Province, China. Geopetal features indicate that the pair of eggs was laid prior to the single egg. X-ray tomographic images in combination with osteological features indicate that the embryo of the single egg is less developed than those of the paired eggs. Eggshell histology suggests that the embryo-induced erosion in the paired eggs is markedly more pronounced than in the single egg, providing a new line of evidence for hatching asynchrony. The inferred hatching asynchrony in combination with previously surmised thermoregulatory incubation and communal nesting behaviors very likely suggests that oviraptorid dinosaurs presented a unique reproductive biology lacking modern analogs, which is contrary to the predominant view that their reproductive biology was intermediate between that of modern crocodiles and birds.