Oviraptor

Name: Oviraptor ‭(‬Egg thief‭)‬.
Phonetic: Oh-vee-rap-tor.
Named By: Henry Fairfield Osborn‭ ‬-‭ ‬1924.
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Reptilia,‭ ‬Dinosauria,‭ ‬Saurischia,‭ ‬Theropoda,‭ ‬Oviraptoridae,‭ ‬Oviraptorinae.
Species: O.‭ ‬philoceratops‭ (‬type‭)‬.
Type: Carnivore.
Size: Estimated‭ ‬2‭ ‬meters long.
Known locations: Mongolia‭ ‬-‭ ‬Djadochta Formation.
Time period: Campanian of the Cretaceous.
Fossil representation: One confirmed specimen,‭ ‬possible other remains.

       The dinosaur Oviraptor has a very unfortunate name as it was given to it on the presumption that it stole other dinosaur’s eggs.‭ ‬When the first dinosaur eggs were discovered in Mongolia,‭ ‬they were thought to belong to the herbivorous Protoceratops due to the large number of their remains in the vicinity.‭ ‬Also because the Oviraptor specimen in question has had its skull crushed,‭ ‬it was thought that it was inflicted by a Protoceratops that was guarding the nest.‭ ‬Further,‭ ‬the type species name philoceratops translates to‭ '‬lover of ceratopsians‭'‬,‭ ‬as in a preferred food source.
       However a study conducted by Mark Norrel et al. in‭ ‬1993‭ ‬revealed the presence of an Oviraptor embryo,‭ ‬revealing for the first time that the Oviraptor was not stealing eggs,‭ ‬it was merely tending to its own nest.‭ ‬A resulting scenario that could play out if the Oviraptor had indeed had its skull crushed by a Protoceratops could run along the lines of a Protoceratops disturbing an Oviraptor as it was on the nest.‭ ‬The Oviraptor only thinking about defending its nest begins an immediate threat display and possible attack on the invading Protoceratops.‭ ‬When things escalated too far,‭ ‬the Protoceratops may have been able to capture the head of the Oviraptor in its beak,‭ ‬crushing is skull in the process.‭ ‬The death of the Oviraptor therefore could be indicative of the eggs failure to hatch.
       Although its name is now considered a slight against the possible true behaviour of Oviraptor,‭ ‬Henry Fairfield Osborn did not name it out of complete rashness,‭ ‬he merely interpreted the name from the proximity of the Oviraptor remains to the eggs.‭ ‬When naming Oviraptor in his‭ ‬1924‭ ‬paper,‭ ‬Osborn did indeed note the fact that the name may not actually be befitting the dinosaur’s true nature.
       For what has become a highly popular dinosaur,‭ ‬only partial remains are known,‭ ‬including the aforementioned crushed skull.‭ ‬For this reason reconstruction of Oviraptor is reliant upon the study of another very similar dinosaur,‭ ‬Citipati.‭ ‬In many ways Oviraptor and Citipati are almost identical,‭ ‬and this has allowed for what are considered to be much more accurate reconstructions of Oviraptor.
       As a member of the oviraptoridae,‭ ‬Oviraptor almost certainly had a covering of feathers over its entire body.‭ ‬It also likely had a pygostyle,‭ ‬several fused vertebrae at the base of the tail that in modern birds is used as a support for tail feathers.‭ ‬A further comparison that could be drawn up from the Oviraptor nest and individuals of Citipati is nesting behaviour.‭ ‬Study has shown that the feathered covered arms were used to insulate eggs as they were incubated for hatching.‭ ‬Also,‭ ‬Oviraptor seems to have had a similar head crest to Citipati,‭ ‬although perhaps not as large.
       With the egg stealing idea now debunked unless hard fossil evidence for Oviraptor eating eggs can be found,‭ ‬it has left doubt as to the exact kind of diet this dinosaur once had.‭ ‬Because it possessed a short beak with no teeth,‭ ‬it could presumably eat anything.‭ ‬One clue is the remains of a lizard found with the original material in what would have been its stomach.‭ ‬Fossils of clams and molluscs are also common to the area,‭ ‬and it's conceivable that the beak once thought to have been used for breaking eggs could have been used to break the shells of clams.‭ ‬These two facts suggest that animal protein would have formed at least a part of the diet.‭ ‬Oviraptor may have also been able to live an omnivorous lifestyle by also including things like seasonal fruits such as berries in its diet,‭ ‬although without evidence,‭ ‬this can only be speculation.



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