We’ve all thought about it: What was dinosaur sex like? Was there foreplay? Did they talk dirty to each other? Did they cuddle afterwards, immediately fall asleep, or go on some murderous rampage in triumph? While we can’t be sure of most of these questions, a recent fossil discovery appears to give evidence towards a previously unseen courtship behavior.
University of Colorado Denver paleontologist Martin Lockley and coauthors recently published an article in Scientific Reports detailing their discovery of 60 scratch marks in the fossilized sand. Known as “pseudo nest-building” traces, these prehistoric scratches have some interesting implications:
“This discovery raises the possibility that concrete evidence of sexual selection has been discovered in non-avian dinosaurs—something that has eluded researchers for as long as the field has existed. Sexual selection is a process where males are competing to perform in a way that attracts females, and some males are chosen over others. Lockley notes, ‘This is physical evidence of pre-historic foreplay that is very similar to birds today. Modern birds using scrape ceremony courtship usually do so near their final nesting sites. So the fossil scrape evidence offers a tantalizing clue that dinosaurs in ‘heat’ may have gathered here millions of years ago to breed and then nest nearby.’”
While nothing is certain about the reality of the preserved marks, at the very least, it gives hope that further insight into dinosaur behavior, sexual or not, is just around the bend. You can read the rest of the article (and check out what is possibly the greatest PG dinosaur sex artwork ever) here.
Feature image by Universal Pictures via ScreenRant