Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience Senior WriterDate: 19 April 2013 Time: 07:15 AM ET

Dinosaur eggs in nest
University of Calgary dinosaur researcher with a clutch of dinosaur eggs.
CREDIT: Jay Im (University of Calgary).

Dinosaurs laid eggs, of that there is no doubt. But what scientists haven’t been as clear on is whether they brooded over their eggs like birds or buried them like crocodiles.

Now, a new study finds that at least one dino took a birdlike approach to hatching eggs.Troodon was a small, meat-eating dinosaur that grew to be about 8 feet (2.4 meters) long. The dinosaurs date back to the Late Cretaceous, about 75 million years ago, and they apparently incubated their eggs much like modern birds.

Most birds sit on their eggs to warm them, but crocodiles and their relatives completely bury their nests. The difference between the two shows up in the eggshells: Croc eggs have many pores to allow for air and water exchange, lest the eggs suffocate in their closed, humid nests. Bird eggs exposed to the air have fewer pores, because their eggs would be more in danger of drying out. [Image Gallery: Dinosaur Daycare]

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