Paternal Parenting

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Science  19 Dec 2008:
Vol. 322, Issue 5909, pp. 1753
DOI: 10.1126/science.322.5909.1753e
CREDIT: DAVID VARRICCHIO

Paternal care of eggs and hatchlings is a common feature of birds. This breeding system has not been thought of as being of ancient origin in birds, but instead has been thought to be a derived feature. However, Varricchio et al. (p. 1826; see the Perspective by Prum) present data that support the hypothesis that this breeding system arose in theropod dinosaur ancestors of birds, before the origin of birds and flight. Fossil data on clutch sizes and bone histology show that several groups of Cretaceous dinosaurs share features in common with modern birds that use male-only care systems, suggesting that paternal care has a deep evolutionary history in the vertebrate phylum.

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