Dino Dads: Original Mr. Mom

Male raptors sat on the eggs while females went out foraging
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 19, 2008 7:43 AM CST
Cinnamon teal duck eggs lie in a nest Monday, June 30, 2008. Scientists speculate that the brooding behavior of today's birds, where the male often plays a large role, may have started with dinosaurs.   (AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac)
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(Newser) – Some of the fearsome birdlike predators of the Cretaceous and Jurassic ages had a softer side as stay-at-home dads, a team of paleontologists says. The researchers analyzed leg bones found on nests of unhatched eggs and concluded that in at least three dinosaur genuses, it was the males who guarded and incubated the eggs, the Washington Post reports.

The behavior of the carnivorous oviraptors, troodons, and citipati could be explained by the fact that the females needed to eat more food to produce eggs, said one of the researchers, whose work is published in the journal Science. Male parental care is common in birds but very rare in other animals, and the scientists believe the brooding behavior of today's birds may have originated with their dinosaur ancestors.