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Did Dinosaurs Raise and Look After Their Young Ones?

It took paleontologists a long time to figure out how dinosaurs raised their babies. It wasn’t until the 1920s that researchers discovered that dinosaurs actually laid eggs and didn’t lay eggs like mammals.

Different dinosaurs had different parenting habits. Although we don’t know everything about these habits, there is enough evidence to show that most dinosaur eggs hatched into young individuals that could run and walk. A dinosaur would typically lay around 20 to 30 eggs, but this number will vary with different species. The reason for spawning so many eggs comes down to the theory of survival of the fittest. Many of the babies were eaten by the predators that lay in wait the moment they were born, and only a few would survive to adulthood.

For years paleontologists believed that dinosaurs actually laid their eggs and then forgot about them, leaving the little baby dinosaurs to fend for themselves. However, in the 1970s, a nesting ground of a duck-billed dinosaur named Maisaura was found in Montana by paleontologist Jack Horner. In this nesting ground, researchers found not only fossilized eggs but also fossils of newly hatched babies, young dinosaurs and adults.

Careful analysis of the fossils showed that the young Maisaura did not have fully developed leg muscles and was therefore unable to walk and run. In addition, the teeth of the baby dinosaurs showed wear. This led paleontologists to conclude that adult Maisauras were actually bringing food to the nest so that the young dinosaurs could eat until they were old enough to fend for themselves. A similar site was found in China for Psittacosaurs.

However, it would be wrong to say that all herbivores cared for the newly hatched young. For example, based on some evidence, scientists concluded that sauropods did not care for their young. A newborn Apatosaurus would have been about 12 inches long and could easily have been crushed under its own mother’s feet. Therefore, the survival rate of an Apatosaurus would be higher if it went at it alone.

Scientists are still trying to learn more about the birth and mothering habits of Tyrannosaurus Rex as almost nothing is known about its parenting habits.

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