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A social species? Newly discovered fossils show early dinosaurs lived in herds

Still Waters

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Posted (IP: Staff) ·

Were dinosaurs unfeeling scaly brutes or caring, well behaved and intelligent? This debate has continued since dinosaurs were first discovered 200 years ago, and has spilled over into the movies and popular consciousness.

In seeking to answer questions like this, palaeontologists generally look at the nearest living relatives, in this case crocodilians and birds. Do we see dinosaurs as exhibiting complex social behaviour like modern birds, or perhaps more rudimentary habits, as seen in crocodiles and alligators?

Dinosaurs were originally perceived as brutish, perhaps cannibalistic, and certainly lacking the brain power or inclination to care for their young. Then, in the 1970s and 1980s, Jack Horner and his colleagues pioneered a new view in their studies of Maiasaura, a plant-eating dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous (77 million years ago) of Montana.



Earliest evidence of herd-living and age segregation amongst dinosaurs


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