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How does a one-ton dinosaur hatch its eggs? Carefully

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Most dinosaurs buried their eggs and hoped for the best, but some species — including a few hefty ones — built nests and pampered unhatched offspring much as birds do today, researchers reported Wednesday.

Which raises an intriguing question: How did creatures nearly as heavy as a hippo brood eggs without squashing them?

“Large species may have not sat directly on their eggs,” explained Kohei Tanaka, a researcher at Nagoya University Museum and lead author of a study in Biology Letters that details the incubation strategy of feathered carnivores called oviraptorosaurs.

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“Eggs are arranged in a circular pattern with a large central opening,” he told AFP, describing clutches of potato-shaped eggs found in China up to half-a-metre (20 inches) long and weighing up to seven kilos (15 pounds) each.

“The dinosaurs likely sat in the middle of the nest so that they didn’t crush the eggs.”

That didn’t keep the unborn dinos warm, but it may have protected them from predators and the elements, Tanaka speculated.

Modern birds descend from a large group of mostly carnivorous dinosaurs called theropods, all of which — including the fearsome T-rex — are thought to have laid eggs.

But very few theropods built nests, which is why the brooding displayed by oviraptorosaurs — a clade of several dozen species ranging from the turkey-sized Caudipteryx to the 1.4-tonne Gigantoraptor — is so important.

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– Sitting on eggshells –

“The incubation behaviour of birds — such as adults sitting in the nest and possibly brooding — likely evolved from theropod dinosaurs,” said Tanaka. “Our research provides additional evidence.”

Oviraptorosaurs lived during the Cretaceous period, the 80 million years leading up to the asteroid or comet strike blamed for wiping out non-avian, terrestrial dinosaurs.

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They had short snouts and beak-like jaws with few or no teeth, and some sported bony crests on their heads. Evidence of generous plumage — especially on the tail — has been found on several species.

Besides the spoke-like arrangement of the fossilised eggs, the eggshell itself provided further evidence that large oviraptorosaurs sat near their unborn progeny, not on top of them.

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The eggs of big dinos, the researchers discovered, were more fragile than the eggs of smaller ones, which were clearly designed to carry more weight.

How big is too big to park a dino butt on top of unhatched eggs?

“That’s hard to say,” said Tanaka. “There is a gap in the data, but the threshold should be between 200 and 500 kilos (440 and 1,110 pounds).”

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Oviraptorosaurs were falsely accused by early paleontologists of stealing the eggs so often found along side their fossil remains, giving rise to their name: “egg-thief lizards.”


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GOP will be ‘aided and abetted’ by Russian bots and trolls defending Trump: Former FBI counter-intel chief

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The former assistant director for counterintelligence at the Federal Bureau of Investigation warned Americans to "hunker down" because Russian intelligence will be repeating Republican talking points.

Frank Figliuzzi was interviewed Thursday by MSNBC's Brian Williams on "The Last Word."

"Frank, Fiona Hill -- who richly deserves it -- has been awarded front page status tomorrow morning on the front page of The New York Times, and I imagine newspapers and websites across this country," Williams noted.

"It was extraordinary today when she -- in effect, begged -- asked, certainly, members of the committee to stop supplying Russian talking points, to stop advancing Russian propaganda in the Congress of the United States," he continued.

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Trump has committed 6 impeachable offenses: Harvard Law’s Laurence Tribe says ‘the evidence is all there’

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Constitutional law expert Laurence Tribe broke down the six impeachable offenses President Donald Trump has committed during a Thursday appearance on MSNBC's "The Last Word" with Lawrence O'Donnell.

Tribe has argued 36 cases before the United States Supreme Court and taught at Harvard Law for 50 years. He co-authored the 2018 book To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment with Joshua Matz.

"Everyone was in the loop, it was no secret. That was the testimony from Ambassador Gordon Sondland yesterday as he implicated the president, Secretary of State, White House chief of staff, and former National Security Advisor John Bolton and other administration officials in the plot to bribe the president of Ukraine to publicly launch an investigation into Joe Biden in exchange for U.S. military aid to Ukraine that was authorized by Congress and that the president was withholding," O'Donnell reported.

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Rachel Maddow breaks down how public opinion is catching up with the facts of Trump’s impeachment

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MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow on Thursday broke down how the details from the televised impeachment hearings are being reported in local newspapers.

The host read the headlines from multiple newspapers following the damning testimony by Ambassador Gordon Sondland.

The Los Angels Times headlined, "Sonland implicates president." "Envoy says Trump directed effort," was The Wall Street Journal headline.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch headlined, "'Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret': Defiant Sondland says he followed Trump's orders."

"Trump directed pressure on Ukraine, ambassador says," headlined The Kansas City Star.

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