Name Meaning:  Egg Thief

Geologic Era:  Cretaceous

Location Discovered:  Mongolia

Estimated Range:  China and North America

Size:  Up to 3.5 meters long

Extinction Date:  66 million years ago

Oviraptorid dinosaurs were, up until recently, only known from Asia.  A new oviraptorid however, was discovered recently in the Hell Creek formation.  The new animal was named Anzu, and it is a very typical oviraptorid in morphology.  This piece of eggshell was listed as coming from the the Gobi Desert in Mongolia.  Dinosaur eggs are not often found intact, and are usually very fragmented in appearance.  To find a whole egg with no breaks or cracks is a rare thing.  

Oviraptors earned their name due to the first good fossil of their type.  The specimen was found very near an egg clutch that was thought to be from Protoceratops.  It was assumed from the position of the fossil that the Oviraptor was feeding on the eggs.  Newer analysis showed that this was not the case.  The eggs turned out to be not from Protoceratops, but from Oviraptor.  The adult Oviraptor was probably a female and, far from stealing the eggs, was probably brooding them.  She possibly died during a sudden sandstorm, which explains her degree of preservation.  Eggs may have been a part of an Oviraptor diet, but was probably not the only item.  

Citipati-the basis for most Oviraptor reconstructions

Oviraptorids were unusual looking dinosaurs, sporting a beak-like structure that would seem more at home on a modern parrot than a dinosaur.  Most of them were probably feathered as well.  These feathers could have ranged from a few on the tail to act as a display, or a full coat as seen in modern birds.  Oviraptorids were probably omnivorous.  At least one specimen has been found with the remains of a small lizard in its stomach area.  Oviraptors may have preyed on smaller animals such as lizards and baby dinosaurs, but they in turn would have been prey to some of the larger theropods of the time and area, including Tarbosaurus (an Asian T-rex like dinosaur).

Note-Oviraptor itself is still known from very fragmented, incomplete remains. Most reconstructions (like the one above) use the more complete Citipati as a basis for Oviraptor.

Gigantoraptor-the largest oviraptorid

Image Credits:  

Skeleton : By Eduard Solà – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13341034


Reconstruction:  “Gigantoraptor BW” by Nobu Tamura (http://spinops.blogspot.com) – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gigantoraptor_BW.jpg#/media/File:Gigantoraptor_BW.jpg