Who knew?

Turns out many dinosaurs were stay-at-home dads:

Dinosaur dads played an active role in raising their young and often served as single parents, according to a study published Friday in the journal Science.

The researchers examined bones belonging to eight different dinosaurs that were fossilized in “brooding postures” near clutches of eggs. None of them included medullary bone, a form of bone tissue found in female birds and some female dinosaurs that is mined for calcium when they lay eggs, the researchers reported…

Dino daddies may have evolved as active parents because the moms were preoccupied with laying eggs, which were large and could only be produced one at a time, the researchers wrote. Additionally, since unhatched chicks needed so much heat to stay warm, the dads may have had little choice but to help out with incubation if they wanted their offspring to survive, according to the study.

What I like about stories like this is how a current social phenomenon can shape our interpretation of natural history. Stay-at-home fatherhood allows us to see and name this behavior, whereas I think fifty years ago it might have gone unrecognized or simply tagged as a strange reversal of nature’s way.

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