A new study, published in the open-access journal Scientific Reports, suggests that the bird-like dinosaur Avimimus may have been gregarious, social animals who lived and died together in groups.
This is based on a find in Mongolia displaying a bone-bed with an assemblage of Avimimus dinosaurs.
The authors state that though it is common knowledge that modern birds form flocks, this is the first evidence of flocking behaviour in birdlike dinosaurs.
“With an assemblage like this, you can’t really understand why the dinosaurs died together unless you see the field site,” says Funston. “We can tell that they were living together around the time of death, but the mystery still remains as to why.”
“There are groups of dinosaurs that become social towards the end of the Cretaceous. What still remains to be solved is whether this increasing trend is based on dinosaur behaviour or if it’s because of how the fossils were preserved.”
The find also highlights the global issue of poaching on fossil localities – the area is covered in countless shards of broken material, the telltale evidence of a previous discovery by fossil hunters.
The international team of paleontologists includes Funston and Currie from the University of Alberta, David Eberth from the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, Michael Ryan from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Tsogtbaatar Chinzorig from the Hokkaido University Museum in Japan, Demchig Badamgarav from the Institute of Paleontology and Geology at the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, and Nicholas Longrich from the University of Bath in the United Kingdom.