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Young ‘dinosauromorphs’ may have begged for food like baby birds

A model of a Silesaurus opolensis

A model of a Silesaurus opolensis

Gerard Gierlinski

80 million years before the first birds, a dinosaur-like creature had a surprisingly bird-like skull. This hints that the animal begged for food from its parents, like baby birds today, and that even early dinosaurs cared for their young – but not everyone is convinced.

Silesaurus opolensis was discovered in 230-million-year-old rocks from Poland. It was lightly built, about 2.3 metres long from nose to tail, and may have had a distinctive beaked jaw. Most researchers think it was a close relative of dinosaurs: a proto-dinosaur or “dinosauromorph”.

To find out about their lifestyle, Grzegorz Niedźwiedzki at Uppsala University in Sweden and his colleagues studied three S. opolensis braincases. One feature stood out: two bony projections near the back, the paroccipital processes. They were orientated in the same way as in birds.

That’s odd, says Niedźwiedzki. Existing evidence suggested this

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