For dinosaurs, hatching eggs was a long-term commitment.

A nest pinned the parents down to the spot where the eggs were laid. As long as they were incubating their eggs, they couldn’t venture off in search of food or to flee predators. And their eggs incubated for a very long time.

That’s according to Gregory Erickson, a paleobiologist at Florida State University and the lead author of a new study on dinosaur hatching times in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Close examination of embryos found fossilized inside their eggs suggests that dinosaurs took as many as six months to hatch – far longer than their closest modern descendants, today’s birds.

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