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oh - vee - RAP - tuh
Name Means: "Egg robber"
Oviraptor was a strange looking animal, especially for a theropod. It had a short snout, toothless jaws, and a rounded mass of thin bone over its nose, rather resembling a chicken's comb. Oviraptor had slender limbs and, like its closest relatives, was probably fast on its feet. Though Oviraptor is known only from the late Cretaceous of Mongolia, other Oviraptor-like animals are known from the Cretaceous of other parts of Asia and western North America.
This dinosaur was discovered during the 1920s American expeditions to Mongolia. Most of the specimens were found near nests of dinosaur eggs. Because the eggs were thought to belong to Protoceratops-a small, common ceratopsian in that region-it was assumed that Oviraptor was stealing the eggs. The eggs, however, lacked embryos. When, in the 1990s, American teams returned to Mongolia, they found more of the same kinds of eggs, including some that contained the delicate skeletons of embryos of Oviraptor, not of Protoceratops. Soon after that, more amazing fossils came to light. They were of Oviraptor skeletons sitting on nests, with their forelimbs wrapped around the eggs. These were probably skeletons of parents incubating and protecting their own eggs. Oviraptor, it would seem, was named for a crime that it did not commit.
Oviraptor was one of the most birdlike of the nonavian dinosaurs. Its ribcage in particular displayed several features that are typical of birds, including a set of processes on each rib that would have kept the ribcage rigid. Recently a relative of Oviraptor was found with a pygostyle-a set of fused vertebrae that would later support the tail feathers of birds.