First evidence of dinosaur mating rituals found

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First Evidence Of Dinosaur Mating Rituals Found

Research is shedding light on an important but previously unknown aspect of dinosaurs' lives—their mating rituals.

A new study describes the discovery of sites known as "scrapes" in parts of Colorado where dinosaurs are believed to have been.

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First evidence of dinosaur mating rituals found
In this undated photo provided by the Bureau of Land Management, researchers and volunteers clean the surface of a new track site on BLM lands north of Moab, Utah. A dry wash full of 112-million-year-old dinosaur tracks are set to be opened to the public this fall near Moab. (AP Photo/The Bureau of Land Management)
In this undated photo provided by the Bureau of Land Management, Brent Breithaupt, a BLM paleontologist, left, and Neffra Matthews, a BLM photogrammetry specialist, photograph the dinosaur track site for 3-D documentation north of Moab, Utah. A dry wash full of 112-million-year-old dinosaur tracks are set to be opened to the public this fall near Moab. (AP Photo/The Bureau of Land Management)
In this June 2013 photo provided by the Bureau of Land Management, volunteers work with the Utah Friends of Paleontology, the BLM and the University of Colorado at Denver uncovering the track site north of Moab, Utah. A dry wash full of 112-million-year-old dinosaur tracks are set to be opened to the public this fall near Moab. (AP Photo/The Bureau of Land Management)
This undated photo provided by the Bureau of Land Management shows theropod tracks found north of Moab, Utah. These tracks were left by large, three-toed, meat-eating dinosaurs, closely related to the new dinosaur Siats. A dry wash full of 112-million-year-old dinosaur tracks are set to be opened to the public this fall near Moab. (AP Photo/The Bureau of Land Management)
This photo released by the Bureau of Land Management shows tracks made by an octopodichnus, an arthropod possibly similar to modern spiders and scorpions - in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in Nevada. The dimensions of the prints, length of the track or their relation to the reference scale present in the original photo from the source, are unknown. BLM paleontologists have confirmed the fossilized footprints were made 180 to 190 million years ago in sandstone within Red Rock, making it the first documented dinosaur tracksite in Nevada. (AP Photo/Bureau of Land Management)
This undated photo provided by the Bureau of Land Management shows theropod tracks found north of Moab, Utah. These tracks were left by large, three-toed, meat-eating dinosaurs, closely related to the new dinosaur Siats. A dry wash full of 112-million-year-old dinosaur tracks are set to be opened to the public this fall near Moab. (AP Photo/The Bureau of Land Management)
Matthew Mossbrucker, director and chief curator of the Morrison Natural History Museum, holds a casting of a hatchling Stegosaurus footprint in front of a footprint of an adult Stegosaurus at the museum in Morrison, Colo., Wednesday, May 23, 2007. Two of the rare hatchling footprints were found by Mossbrucker during a dig near Morrison. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)
A 200 million year old footprint of a dinosaur is one of about 150 found in Sheldon Johnson's back yard Thursday, April 20, 2000, in St. George, Utah. Paleontologists are calling the discovery one of the best collection of dinosaur footprints ever found. (AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac)
Recent undated hand out picture showing one of the 60 three-finger dinosaur footprints, some as long as 45 centimeters (18 inches) that were recently found in a cave near San Giovanni Rotondo, southern Italy, by a group of scientists headed by gealogy professor Alfonso Borsellini. The discovery added new evidence to the theory that Italy was once part of a land mass attached to the African continent. (AP Photo)
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These scrapes have been compared to the behavior of modern birds where, according to the press release, "males show off their ability to provide by excavating pseudo nests for potential mates."

The team identified about 50 of these fossilized, dug-out areas which, in some cases, are the size of bathtubs.

To the researchers, these findings indicate that dinosaur mating rituals were similar to that of today's birds where males display strength to attract females, and females select the most capable ones as their partners.

And since their modern counterparts typically display scraping behavior close to their eventual nests, it is believed dinosaur breeding and nesting areas may be close by.

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