Scientists have stated that dinosaurs, who were reptiles, exhibited mating behavior that was more similar to modern birds.
Scientists from the University of Colorado Denver have found evidence of more than 50 dinosaur scrapes, in fossils obtained across two National Conservation Areas near Delta, Colorado. They believe that these nest scrape displays, were done by males of the species to show off their ability to provide by digging up pseudo nests for potential partners. Similar scrap ceremonies are observed in birds, when they are trying to attract potential mates.
Professor Martin Lockley, a paleontologist at the University of Colorado Denver, and the lead author of the study, said, “These are the first sites with evidence of dinosaur mating display rituals ever discovered, and the first physical evidence of courtship behavior. These huge scrape displays fill in a missing gap in our understanding of dinosaur behavior.”
According to the scientists these scraps are in variable sizes. The largest of the sites had about 60 scrapes on one sandstone surface that was roughly 50 meters long and 15 meters wide. The scientists believe that they were likely nest scrape displays, when the males would dig deeply into the dirt to show off their nest-making abilities.
“The size, depth and distribution of these scrapes are variable. However, most typically consist of parallel double troughs, comprised of multiple scrapes separated by a raised central ridge. A few show complete outlines of three-toed theropod tracks, and some show thin aprons of excavated sediment aligned with the long axis of the scrapes,” added Lockley.
The scientists created 3D images of the scrapes by layering photographs and then made rubber moulds and fiberglass copies. They added that this behavior is common in mammals and birds so, until now, scientists could only speculate about dinosaur mating rituals and assume any similarities. Atlantic puffins and Ostriches are thought to leave similar tracks, although they typically nest in the scrapes, leaving little trace of the original markings.