Nesting Behavior of Dinosaurs Shows How They Avoided Crushing Their Eggs

Nesting Behavior of Dinosaurs Shows How They Avoided Crushing Their Eggs


While the world may know a lot about dinosaurs, there are still some mysteries associated with these majestic creatures of our prehistoric past. As scientists continue to uncover new fossils and glimpses into what life was like when the dinosaur roamed the earth, many questions are being answered, including one that might be surprising.

Some people might wonder about the eggs that dinosaurs laid, and how they were able to nest without destroying such fragile things. It turns out that a recent fossil find has in fact answered the question of how these giant creatures were able to avoid crushing their eggs when they nested.

According to a report from National Geographic, a new study has been released that reveals what the actual nesting behaviors of dinosaurs was, and how they avoided crushing their eggs. This information comes courtesy of a recent discovery of a dinosaur that actually died while they were tending to their nest.


It turns out that dinosaurs definitely had their own strategy for tending to their eggs, and it involved “carefully stacking their eggs in a ring around themselves in the nest.” While people today see nesting habits in birds, which include sitting on their eggs, it seems that these behaviors originated in the dinosaurs, and have evolved over time.

As the Science Examiner pointed out, not all dinosaurs would have nested with their eggs, but it seems that at the very least the flying species, did in fact incubate their eggs in a way similar to the birds of today. However, unlike modern day birds, these prehistoric giants often weighed thousands of pounds, which would leave eggs vulnerable to being crushed if it were not for the rather elaborate nesting behaviors that were apparently standard procedure.

According to Kohei Tanaka, a lead author on the study, much larger species of dinosaurs may not have actually “sat directly on their eggs.” At the same time, based on information that scientists were able to glean from different nests they have been able to uncover over the years, as well as the recent find of the dinosaur who died while in the process of nesting, it appears as if many of these dinosaurs would create elaborate rings with their eggs in order to incubate them, and protect them at the same time.


Dinosaur nests could be anywhere from a mere foot wide, to upwards of 10 feet. With so much space, it makes sense that these prehistoric parents might need to come up with an elaborate strategy for organizing their nests.

Unsurprisingly, in the smaller nests that have been uncovered, scientists have observed eggs that were often clustered together, with very little space between them and even lacking an open space in the center of the nest. In larger nests, more and more room would be left in the center of the eggs in order for the parental dinosaurs to sit with their unborn progeny.

This “elaborate pile of eggs” would actually see the eggs stacked in layers of two or three as they spiraled upwards towards the center of the dinosaurs’ nest.

While this study reveals what the nesting habits of many of these large dinosaurs is, and how they avoided crushing their eggs under their weight, it does not necessarily answer the question as to why they nested. Although birds nest with their eggs in order to provide warmth during incubation, there is no real answer as to whether this is the reason why dinosaurs may have nested with their eggs.

However, what this study does seem to confirm is that modern day birds did in fact evolve from the dinosaurs. This means that essentially when one sees a pigeon or a hawk flying over their head, they are seeing small dinosaurs flapping around above them.

Written by Kimberley Spinney


National Geographic – How Giant Dinosaurs Sat on Their Eggs Without Crushing Them
Science Examiner – Dinosaur parenting tips 101: How hefty dinosaurs hatched eggs without crushing them?

Featured and Interior Image Credits – Pixabay – Creative Commons