Many species have different tactics for how they raise their young. Some animals teach their babies how to survive and carefully guide them through life. Other creatures leave their young shortly after laying their eggs or birthing their babies. Dinosaurs weren’t too different from the animals we see today. Below, we’ll explore the nesting behaviors of dinosaurs to learn more about these magnificent reptiles.
What Were Dinosaur Nests Like?
While all dinosaurs laid eggs, every species didn’t have the same type of nest, as some buried their eggs in the dirt. Some reptiles alive today—turtles, snakes, and crocodiles—also do this. Interestingly, scientists suspect that many dinosaur species buried their eggs since it allowed the parents to keep their eggs hidden. Having places to hide is vital to many species’ survival since predators are often searching for their next meal.
Although many dinosaurs buried their eggs in dirt or vegetation, they didn’t all follow this tactic. Many small theropods had open nests just like their modern descendants—birds! These dinosaurs likely used their body heat to incubate their eggs. These theropods could protect their eggs from apex predators by sticking close to the nest.
Were Dinosaurs Loving Parents?
Another key aspect of exploring the nesting behaviors of dinosaurs revolves around how these beasts raised their young. Despite the ways movies depict dinosaurs, many were not doting parents who raised their young.
Species that buried their eggs likely left soon after since the dirt and vegetation served as ideal incubators; once the eggs hatched, no one was there to raise them. Moreover, it’s most likely that many sauropods offered little to no care after laying their eggs, like turtles.
On the other hand, some dinosaurs stuck around to watch over and raise their babies. For instance, scientists found a fossil of a Maiasaura alongside its young, which were too big to be freshly hatched dinosaurs. This means some dinosaurs stuck by the nest and raised their young.
How’d Dinosaurs Grow Up?
So, how did many dinosaurs raise themselves and grow up? After all, it was a dangerous world, and various predators saw baby dinosaurs as a perfect snack. Some baby dinosaurs likely lived in groups until they grew large enough to fend for themselves. Paleontologists have come across a fossilized group of young triceratopses. There’s more safety in numbers, so sticking with fellow adolescent dinosaurs made the individual animal more likely to survive into adulthood.
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