Today's news: dinosaur babysitter!
Analysis of a group of Psittacosaurus lujiatunensis fossils suggest that one dino in the group was providing daycare:
A new examination of a rock slab containing fossils of 24 very young dinosaurs and one older individual is suggestive of a group of hatchlings overseen by a caretaker, according to a new study by University of Pennsylvania researchers.
The specimen was discovered by amateur paleontologists in China’s Liaoning Province. A 2004 paper on the specimen suggested it may be a nest, but researchers Brandon P. Hedrick and Peter Dodson suspected there might be more to it:
Given the close association of the young P. lujiatunensis with the older individual, however, Dodson, Hedrick and colleagues believe this specimen may offer evidence of post-hatchling cooperation, a behavior exhibited by some species of modern-day birds. The older juvenile may well have been a big brother or sister helping care for its younger siblings.
The researchers emphasize that they can’t definitively call this assemblage of fossils a nest, as some earlier analyses have.