CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

Community News Network

May 28, 2013

Dinosaur dads may not have been very caring after all

Male dinosaurs may not have had a caring side after all.

Five years ago, a study of theropod dinosaurs concluded that it was male dinosaurs that incubated the eggs of their offspring. Now a new analysis of the same data is challenging that finding.

It is notoriously difficult to work out how long-extinct animals behaved, but a few fossils found in recent decades show clearly that some Mesozoic theropods, a bipedal group of carnivorous dinosaurs, made — and sat on — nests, apparently in the same way that birds do today.

In 2008, David Varricchio at Montana State University in Bozeman and his colleagues set about learning more about dinosaur parenting. Their strategy was to combine data from those fossils with what we know about how their descendants behave today.

They deduced the adult body mass of the nesting dinosaurs and counted the maximum number of fossil eggs in the nests attributed to each species. They then compared their figures to similar data from studies of birds and crocodiles.

This revealed that nesting theropod dinosaurs produced unusually large clutches for their body mass, a pattern often seen in birds in which the male alone cares for the eggs. In these species, female birds can plow more resources into bigger clutches, because the female is free to leave the nest and replenish her energy reserves after laying eggs. Varricchio's team concluded that among theropods, the males were also the egg incubators.

But recently a group of British researchers reanalyzed the data and came to a different conclusion.

Led by Charles Deeming at the University of Lincoln, the researchers say the 2008 analysis didn't consider a few key points. For instance, some birds today deliberately lay their eggs in another bird's nest to avoid having to care for them. This distorts the size of some clutches, making them seem unusually large. Theropod dinosaurs may have behaved in the same way.

Text Only
Community News Network
  • The virtues of lying

    Two computational scientists set out recently to simulate the effects of lying in a virtual human population. Their results, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, show that lying is essential for the growth of a cohesive social network.

    July 31, 2014

  • Sunburn isn't the only sign of summer that can leave you itchy and blistered

    You've got a rash. You quickly rule out the usual suspects: You haven't been gardening or hiking or even picnicking, so it's probably not a plant irritant such as poison ivy or wild parsnip; likewise, it's probably not chiggers or ticks carrying Lyme disease; and you haven't been swimming in a pond, which can harbor the parasite that causes swimmer's itch.

    July 30, 2014

  • Survey results in legislation to battle sexual assault on campus

    Missouri U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill joined a bipartisan group of senators Wednesday to announce legislation that aims to reduce the number of sexual assaults on college campuses.

    July 30, 2014

  • An alarming threat to airlines that no one's talking about

    It's been an abysmal year for the flying public. Planes have crashed in bad weather, disappeared over the Indian Ocean and tragically crossed paths with anti-aircraft missiles over Ukraine.

    July 30, 2014

  • Sharknado.jpg Sharknado 2 set to attack viewers tonight

    In the face of another "Sharknado" TV movie (the even-more-inane "Sharknado 2: The Second One," premiering Wednesday night on Syfy), there isn't much for a critic to say except to echo what the characters themselves so frequently scream when confronted by a great white shark spinning toward them in a funnel cloud:
    "LOOK OUT!!"

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20140729-AMX-GIVHAN292.jpg Spanx stretches into new territory with jeans, but promised magic is elusive

    The Spanx empire of stomach-flattening, thigh-slimming, jiggle-reducing foundation garments has expanded to include what the brand promises is the mother of all body-shaping miracles: Spanx jeans.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Medical marijuana opponents' most powerful argument is at odds with a mountain of research

    Opponents of marijuana legalization are rapidly losing the battle for hearts and minds. Simply put, the public understands that however you measure the consequences of marijuana use, the drug is significantly less harmful to users and society than tobacco or alcohol.

    July 29, 2014

  • linda-ronstadt.jpg Obama had crush on First Lady of Rock

    Linda Ronstadt remained composed as she walked up to claim her National Medal of Arts at a White House ceremony Monday afternoon.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Can black women have it all?

    In a powerful new essay for the National Journal, my friend Michel Martin makes a compelling case for why we need to continue the having-it-all conversation.

    July 29, 2014

  • Dangerous Darkies Logo.png Redskins not the only nickname to cause a stir

    Daniel Snyder has come under fire for refusing to change the mascot of his NFL team, the Washington Redskins. The Redskins, however, are far from being the only controversial mascot in sports history.  Here is a sampling of athletic teams from all areas of the sports world that were outside the norm.

    July 28, 2014 3 Photos