Get to Know a Dino: Citipati osmolskae

On Exhibit posts

In Dinosaurs Among Us, visitors can travel the evolutionary path from ancient dinosaurs to modern birds—an unbroken line spanning millions of years.

Citipati

A model of what scientists think Citipati osmolskae looked like. 

© AMNH/R. Mickens


While anatomy provides many clues to this common ancestry, paleontologists are uncovering more and more evidence to suggest that many bird behaviors, such as guarding eggs in a nest, may find their roots in the lifestyles of dinosaurs like Citipati osmolskae, an oviraptorid dinosaur featured in Dinosaurs Among Us.

Protective Pose

The spectacular fossil of Citipati osmolskae on display confirms that nesting is an ancient behavior, present deep in the non-bird dinosaur lineage. Positioned over the center of its nest, the dinosaur has its forearms spread to protect its eggs from cold or heat. Many modern birds assume precisely this position when brooding their eggs. 

CitipatiNestWEB

A model of an oviraptor nest shows a Citipati dinosaur in a brooding posture. 

©AMNH/M. Ellison


Doting Dads?

While it’s not known how duties were spread among these prehistoric parents, male birds of species like ostriches, cassowaries and emus tend to their young chicks.  

Citipati model

A model of an adult Citipati osmolskae and its young in Dinosaurs Among Us.

© AMNH/R. Mickens


In Good Company

The first Citipati osmolskae specimens were discovered by scientists from the Musem and the Mongolian Academy of Sciences in 1993 at Ukhaa Tolgod, Mongolia. A famously rich fossil site, Ukhaa Tolgod has been described by Provost of Science Michael J. Novacek as a “cradle of evolution.”