Oviraptor Fact Sheet

Common Name:

Oviraptor philoceratops

Scientific Name:

Ceratopsian-loving egg thief

Wild Status:

Cretaceous Period, 80-66 MYA

Habitat:

Mongolia, China

Country:

Mongolia, Countries in China

Shelter:

Unknown

Life Span:

Unknown

Size:

6 feet long, 3 feet tall at the hips, 50-80 pounds

Cool Facts:

  • Oviraptor and its relatives have been found to possess plumage, including long feathers on the arms. While useless for flight, these feathers could have been used to help incubate eggs via brooding.
  • Fossils of adults sitting on nests have been found with the arms held along the body symmetrically and covering the top of the nest, a position that would have been far more effective if the animal was feathered. These fossils also serve as strong evidence for the connection between dinosaurs and birds.
  • Many oviraptorid species possessed elaborate crests on their heads that gave them a superficial resemblance to the extant cassowary. While the exact function of these crests is unclear, it is possible they served as a display organ and may have been a sexually selected trait.

Details:

The name Oviraptor means “egg thief” and the animal was so named because when it was first discovered, it was sitting on what was initially believed to be a Protoceratops nest. Years later, X-rays of the eggs showed that they contained not baby Protoceratops but Oviraptor chicks. Turns out the raider was actually a devoted parent! Despite being classified as a theropod, Oviraptor has few adaptations for carnivory. Its toothless beak has shearing edges similar to those found on herbivores like parrots and tortoises, suggesting a diet of mostly plant material. The remains of small vertebrates like lizards have been found associated with Oviraptor fossils, indicating that it ate meat at least some of the time.

Taxonomic Breakdown:

Kingdom - Animalia Phylum - Chordata Class - Reptilia Order - Saurischia Family - Oviraptoridae Genus - Oviraptor Species - O. philoceratops

Conservation & Helping:

The Oviraptor is currently extinct, and was believed to exist 80 - 66 Million Years Ago

For Teachers and Educators

Oviraptor-Fact-Sheet.pdf

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