Listen to part of a lecture in a paleontology class.
As we've discussed, birds are apparently descendants of dinosaurs and shared many commonalities with some dinosaur species, like...um... feathers and maybe even flight and of course egg laid.
OK. So, many paleontologists, myself included, have wondered about other similarities between dinosaurs and birds.
Since adult dinosaur fossils have sometimes been discovered near or on top of nests, we've been looking at the dinosaur parenting behavior.
Parenting behavior, well, that sounds so gentle and caring.
But dinosaurs were ferocious reptiles and reptiles don't take care of their young, do they?
Well, some reptiles incubate their eggs, crocodiles do.
And as for popular attitudes towards dinosaurs...well, take the Oviraptor for instance.
In the 1920s, a paleontologist discovered the fossil remains of a small dinosaur near a nest containing eggs.
He assumed the dinosaur was stealing the eggs, so he named it Oviraptor that means egg thief in Latin, which fueled the generally negative public image of such dinosaurs.
But by the 1990s, other experts had convincingly made the case that instead of robbing the nest, the Oviraptor was probably taking care of the eggs.
You see, dinosaurs' closest living relatives—birds and crocodiles—display nesting behavior.
And dinosaur fossils have been found in postures that we now believe to indicate brooding behavior, that is, sitting on the eggs until they hatch.
So we are curious about the type of care dinosaurs gave to their young.
And we'd like to figure out which dinosaur parent, the male or the female gave the care.
Shouldn't the behavior of crocodiles and birds give us some clues then?
Well, with crocodiles, it is the female who guards the nest, and with birds, it depends on the species, it can be the male or the female that takes care the eggs, or both.
In over 90 percent of all bird species, both parents take care of the eggs and the young birds.
But sometimes it's just the male?
Well, exclusive care by the male parent is much less common, but it does occur.
Now, for animals other than birds, the care of young by both parents is pretty unusual in the animal kingdom.
Males contribute to parental care in fewer than five percent of all mammalian species.
It's even less frequent among reptiles.
And exclusive care by the male is very rare.