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Dinosaur Zoom In 6

Proved Innocent
Art by Mark Hallett

Oviraptor has a reputation it doesn't deserve. Discovered in 1923 in the Gobi in Mongolia, its first known fossil lay on a nest of fossil eggs thought to belong to Protoceratops. Scientists called the toothless, beaked theropod "egg thief," assuming it had been stealing from Protoceratops nests. What's wrong with this picture? Everything, says evidence from the past decade. "Now we know Oviraptor was brooding its own eggs," says Catherine Forster, a paleontologist at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. "Paleontologists have found several more Oviraptors squatting over similar nests, with their forearms spread protectively around the nest just like birds." The clincher? Eggs from some nests in the group held 80-million-year-old Oviraptor embryos.

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