Museum Frankfurt

Oviraptor philoceratops

Order:            Saurischia
Suborder:   Theropoda
Infraorder:   Coelurosauria
Diet:   meat, probably snails
Weight:    approx. 35 kilogrammes
Length:  approx. 1,7 metres
Age:  80 million years (Upper Cretaceous)
Fossil site:   Mongolia
at Senckenberg: cast

The Oviraptor had a prominent bony crest on its head. Altogether, its face looked like that of a parrot,
since the jaw carried a curved horn beak. The jaws were toothless, but there was a hard bar in the middle of the upper jaw. It is possible it used this to crack the snails which were common in the area. With its three claws on each hand, it could hold on to snails and other prey, perhaps even eggs. Oviraptor was very likely befeathered. Like birds, it had a wishbone, which was fused from the two clavicles (collarbones).
In Mongolia, entire nest groups have been found. The bones of the adult animals lay on some nests. This suggests that animals, like many seabirds, bred in colonies.
The name Oviraptor (= egg thief) is based on an error: Oviraptor was found in the same layers, in
which many remains of herbivorous Protoceratops are found. The fossilized clutches of eggs were at first assigned to Protoceratops . The Oviraptor specimens in such nests was considered evidence that it
had stolen the eggs. In the meantime, however, researchers were able to make out the remnants of embryos in some of the eggs: These were small Oviraptors. A cast of a prepared egg which includes the skeleton of such an embryo, is also on display. Today, Oviraptor are no longer considered to be egg thieves,
but rather to be egg producers. Despite the fallacy it represents, the scientific name is only assigned once, and can no longer be changed retrospectively. The egg producer thus forever remains, according to its name,
 the egg thief.


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