Oviraptorinae - Paleobiology - Diet


The diet of oviraptorids is not fully understood. Though some appear to have been at least partially carnivorous, they were probably primarily herbivorous.

Originally, oviraptorids were thought to be specialized egg raiders, based on a Mongolian find showing Oviraptor on top of a nest erroneously attributed to the ceratopsian dinosaur Protoceratops. However, discoveries in the 1990s, including Citipati specimens clearly brooding (rather than predating) the same types of nests, and a Citipati embryo inside the same type of egg preserved in these nests, showed that the "specialized egg thief" idea was incorrect. Still, some scientists have suggested that oviraptorids may have fed on shelled food items like eggs or shellfish. However, animals specialized for eating shelled food typically have broad, crushing beaks or teeth. In contrast, the jaws of oviraptorids had thin, sharp edges probably supporting shearing beaks, ill suited for cracking shells. Among other known animals, the beaks of oviraptorids most closely resemble those of herbivorous dicynodont synapsids, which are usually considered herbivorous. Their beaks also share similarities with the beaks of herbivorous parrots and tortoises.

Evidence of partial carnivory among some oviraptorines comes from a lizard skeleton preserved in the body cavity of the type specimen of Oviraptor and two hatchling Byronosaurus skulls found in a Citipati nest. Some scientists have also suggested that some oviraptorids (especially the small-handed, weak-clawed "ingeniines") fed mainly on plant material.

Read more about this topic:  Oviraptorinae, Paleobiology

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