By | September 9, 2016

The oviraptorosaurs are a family of odd-looking, feathered dinosaurs with parrotlike beaks. Although they evolved from flesh-eating dinosaurs (theropods), they were omnivores or plant-eaters. They had few or no teeth, short snouts, and often a decorative crest on the head. Fossils show they brooded their eggs as birds do. Some oviraptorosaurs were so birdlike that the scientists who discovered them thought they must be ancient flightless birds.


Key features
■ Short skull, sometimes with a crest
■ Parrotlike beaks with small or no teeth
■ Feathers
■ Plant eaters

Oviraptorosaurs lived in the Cretaceous Period, between 84 and 65 million years ago.

Citipati (SIH-tee-PAH-tee)


When: 75 million years ago (Late Cretaceous)

Fossil location: Mongolia

Habitat: Plains of Central Asia

Length: 9 ft (3 m)

The most distinctive feature of Citipati was the crest on its head. Many Citipati specimens have been found crouching on their eggs in nests, sheltering them with arms that were probably feathered, as modern birds do. Citipati’s oval eggs were huge—even bigger than a man’s hand.

Ingenia (IN-jeh-NEE-ah)

When: 70 million years ago (Late Cretaceous)

Fossil location: Mongolia

Habitat: Woodlands

Length: 5 ft (1.5 m)

Ingenia was a small, feathered dinosaur, barely as tall as a man. It was named after the Ingen province in Mongolia where it was first found. Very few fossils of this dinosaur have been discovered. From the existing specimens, however, scientists know it had stout hands with unusually large thumbs and thumb claws, which may have been defensive weapons. Ingenia may have been an omnivore, feeding on a mix of plant and animal food.

Caudipteryx (caw-DIP-ter-ix)


When: 130–120 million years ago (Early Cretaceous)

Fossil location: China

Habitat: Lakesides and riverbeds

Length: 3 ft (1 m)

Turkey-sized Caudipteryx was covered in feathers. It had large plumes on its short, winglike arms; a large tail fan; and short, downy feathers all over. The feathers were probably used to keep it warm and to attract mates rather than to fly.
Caudipteryx’s bony tail was shorter than that of most dinosaurs, which meant it couldn’t be used as a counterbalance.
As a result, it most likely walked like a stocky, flightless bird. Its pointed beak might have been used to shred plants and crack seeds, but Caudipteryx may also have eaten meat.


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