New fossils have revealed that dinosaurs probably had prehistoric foreplay rituals similar to modern-day birds (the avian kind, obviously).
The fossils of ‘huge scrapes’ left in rocks more than 100 million years have been discovered by scientists working in two National Conservation Areas near Delta, Colorado.
According to a paper published in the journal Scientific Reports this new evidence suggests the animals may have attracted mates with ‘scrape ceremonies’ or ‘nest scrape displays’, which involved the males of the species showing off their prowess by digging out pretend nests for potential partners.
The Guardian reports that the researchers from the University of Colorado found evidence of more than 50 dinosaur scrapes – some as large as bathtubs – across the sites. They created 3D images of the scrapes by layering photographs before making rubber moulds and fibreglass copies of them.
Professor Martin Lockley, a palaeontologist who led the research said:
These are the first sites with evidence of dinosaur mating display rituals ever discovered, and the first physical evidence of courtship behaviour. These huge scrape displays fill in a missing gap in our understanding of dinosaur behaviour.
He said the new evidence supports theories about dinosaurs’ mating displays ‘sexual selection’ process – a driving force for evolution – in which males looking for mates drive off their weaker rivals and females choose the most impressive male performers as partners.
This behaviour is common in mammals and birds, but until now scientists could only speculate about dinosaur mating rituals.
Professor Lockley added:
This is physical evidence of pre-historic foreplay that is very similar to birds today. So the fossil scrape evidence offers a tantalising clue that dinosaurs in ‘heat’ may have gathered here millions of years ago to breed and then nest nearby.
Bet they still stuck a bit of Barry White on first though.
The National Post