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Categories: TheropodaOmnivoreMongoliaDjadokhtaLate Cretaceous

OVIRAPTOR

oviraptor
Pronunciation: ovi-RAP-tuh
Meaning: Egg plunderer
Author: Osborn (1924)
Previous names: None known
First discovery: Ömnögovi, Mongolia
Roar factor: 3/10

Oviraptor philoceratops

It's nice when dinosaurs are given names which neatly tie them to an identifiable feature, place of discovery or habit and Oviraptor philoceratops—"Egg plunderer, lover of ceratopsians"—was coined in 1924 by H.F. Osborn because it was discovered loitering ominously just a few inches away from a clutch of eggs that he assumed belonged to the contemporaneous "horn faced" herbivore Protoceratops.

To be fair, Osborn was troubled by his outrageously presumptuous title of choice and openly admitted "it may entirely mislead us as to its feeding habits and belie its character", and so it came to pass. Sometime later paleontologists realised that the eggs in question actually belonged to Oviraptor and far from being caught in the act of plundering said nest it was simply being a good parent. However, a fossilised lizard in the holotype's stomach proved it wasn't entirely herbivorous so opportunistic egg snaffling can't be completely ruled out.

Initially classified as an ornithimimosaur because it was toothless (though it does have two bony prongs on the roof of its mouth), Oviraptor is traditionally illustrated with a huge head crest but this is another mix up. Although longer than other oviraptorids, the holotype skull is so mangled it's impossible to tell if a crest was present and the cassowary-like casque-topped depiction stems from Citipati—a large well-preserved specimen that was initially assigned to Oviraptor—who not only vindicated "egg plunderers" by being discovered atop similar eggs but also implied the use of feathered wings to cover them judging by her nesting position.
(egg plunderer, lover of ceratopsians)Etymology
Oviraptor is derived from the Latin "ovum" (egg) and "raptor" (plunderer, robber, thief), and the species epithet, philoceratops, is derived from the Ancient Greek "philos" (beloved, fond of, dear), and the Greek "ceras" (horn) and "ops" (face). Combined it means "egg plunderer, lover of ceratopsians", which is a reference to its assumed fondness for the flavour of horned dinosaur eggs and not... something else!
Discovery
The first and only confirmed remains of Oviraptor were discovered at Bayn Dzak ("Flaming Cliffs") in the Djadokhta Formation of Ömnögovi, Mongolia by Roy Chapman Andrews during the American Museum's Central Asiatic expeditions of 1923.
The holotype (AMNH 6517) is a partial skeleton and badly mangled skull.
The original nest (AMNH 6508) contained fifteen or so eggs.
References
• Osborn (1924) "Three new Theropoda, Protoceratops zone, central Mongolia."
• G.S. Paul (2002) "Dinosaurs of the Air: The Evolution and Loss of Flight in Dinosaurs and Birds." /uk.
• Z. Dong and P. Currie (1996) "On the discovery of an oviraptorid skeleton on a nest of eggs at Bayan Mandahu, Inner Mongolia, People's Republic of China".
• R. Barsbold, T. Maryanska and H. Osmólska (2004) "Oviraptorosauria" in "The Dinosauria: Second Edition." /uk. Editors: Weishampel, Dodson and Osmólska.
• Lowell Dingus, Rodolfo A. Coria and Luis M. Chiappe (2007) "Dinosaur Eggs Discovered: Unscrambling the Clues". /UK.
Estimations
Timeline:
Era: Mesozoic
Period: Late Cretaceous
Timespan: 86-71 million years ago
Age: Campanian-Maastrichtian
Vital Stats:
Est. Max. Length: 1.5 meters
Est. Max. Height: ?
Est. Max. Weight: 15 kg
Diet: Omnivorous
             
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To cite this page:
Lee Atkinson (DinoChecker) "OVIRAPTOR: from DinoChecker's dinosaur archive".
http://www.dinochecker.com/dinosaurs/OVIRAPTOR. Web access: 01 Aug. 2014.