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Creatures the size of ostriches care for the eggs, keeping them warm in transit.Arthur Denison

Oviraptor ("egg-stealer" or "egg-seizer") is a genus of small to medium-sized theropod dinosaurs that were long perceived as egg-thieves, but discovered to be quite focused and nurturing caretakers. The type-species (or holotype) is O. philoceratops. The Romano family predominantly employs Oviraptor as nurses and attendants at their business, Romano's Hatchery—where they are referred to by the Romano family as Ovinutrix ("egg-nurse").[1]



An Ovinutrix at Romano's Hatchery.

Oviraptor is a smallish, bird-like theropod, generally standing upright around 1.5 m tall (5’), with a similar snout-to-tail measurement (about 1.5 metres in length), and weighing no more than 40 kg (nearly 90 lbs.). Unique and rare individuals could be somewhat larger or smaller.

The species is born with a shortened, toothless beak (which is utilized in a shearing motion during eating) and a bony head-crest for displaying, it is believed, during mating rituals. On Dinotopia, two distinct populations of Oviraptor exist. The Oviraptor in Western Dinotopia were almost featherless but colorful, having a red crest, a blue throat, and a purplish, red-colored body.[2]

The eastern populace of Oviraptor, found in Chandara, are known for stunning blue feathers, and a golden throat with a black head crest. While both the western and eastern oviraptoids are comparable in size to smaller flightless birds (ratites), such as rhea (R. americana) or emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae), there are relatives of Oviraptor which are famed for their large builds. One cousin in particular, referred to as Anzu, grows to 4 m long (12’), 2.75 m tall (9’), and weighs nearly 300 kg (650+ lbs).

Furthermore, the largest (yet no less parental) cousin of Oviraptor is the Gigantoraptor, whose body length measures nearly 8 m (26’), with a standing height of up to 5 m (16’); it is their massive weight, of around two metric tonnes, that truly makes them the giant of the egg-nurse family-tree.

Regardless of their size or genus, whether wild or working in the nurseries, oviraptoids prefer to raise their own young in a communal setting, mainly for security. These groupings of nests, situated as close as one metre (3’) from one another (though normally a bit more spaced-out), are sometimes called “parenting groups” or “mothers’ social circles”; however, the latter is a bit of a misnomer, as both the mother and father take turns incubating their clutches of eggs. One acts as egg-sitter and guard, and the other is temporarily relieved of egg-sitting duties for as little as an hour, or up to several hours, at a time. In this way, neither parent risks becoming overly famished or thirsty (and can stretch their limbs, run, etc.) and can return with a clear mind. As the mothers, in particular, incubate and periodically rotate their eggs, they utter a series of “coo-coo” noises, mixed with purring and clucking, similar to a hen laying an egg. These uniquely soothing sounds are believed to aid hatchling oviraptoids in identifying their mother by sound, as she will likewise quickly recognise each of her babies by call.

All oviraptoid parents cooperatively—and fiercely—guard their eggs and young ones (and their neighbouring Oviraptors’ babies) from thieves and predators, explaining their unrelenting work ethic at busy, multi-species egg nurseries (such as the Romano’s facility).

In the books[]

Dinotopia: A Land Apart from Time[]

Dinotopia: The World Beneath[]

Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara[]