TOEFL Reading: ETS-TOEFL阅读机经 - W26U85SN164H8N47M$

From fossil evidence alone the question of whether or not dinosaurs cared for their young is very difficult to answer. Because behaviors are not preserved in the fossil record, we can only make inferences from indirect evidence. Parental care can be divided into two types of behavior: prehatching (building nests and incubating eggs – for example, sitting on top of them so as to warm the eggs and encourage hatching) and posthatching (feeding the young and guarding the nests). Most of our evidence comes from alleged dinosaur rookeries (places where nests are built). Several have been excavated in eastern Montana, where a large concentration of dinosaur nests was found at a place now called Egg Mountain. Most of these probably belonged to the hadrosaur Maiasaura. Preserved in these nests are the bones of baby dinosaurs. The finds at Egg Mountain and other sites around the world document that dinosaurs laid their eggs in nests. The nests at Egg Mountain are reported to be equally spaced, separated by a space corresponding to the length of an adult Maiasaura. From this arrangement scientists have inferred that the nests were separated in this way to allow incubation in a tightly packed nesting colony. Although this interpretation is open to challenge, the discovery of Oviraplor adults on top of Oviraplor egg clutches (as determined by embryos in some eggs), is relatively powerful evidence that at least these dinosaurs incubated their nests. Evidence for parental care following hatching is much more controversial. Behavioral speculation based on indirect fossil evidence is dangerous because the data is not always as unambiguous as might appear. At Egg Mountain, many nests contain baby dinosaur bones. Not all the dinosaurs in the nest are the same size. Many of the small bones found in the nests are associated with jaws and teeth, teeth that show signs of wear. It seems reasonable to assume that the wear was caused by the chewing of the coarse plants that were the hatchlings' diet. Because the young were still in the nest, this food may have been brought to the rookery by foraging adults. This line of reasoning suggests that these animals had an advanced system of parental care. A closer look at the evidence clouds this interpretation. Analysis of dinosaur embryos indicates that worn surfaces are present on the teeth of juveniles even before hatching. Just as a human baby moves inside the mother before birth, modern-day archosaurs also grind their teeth before birth, wearing the surface in some spots. Thus, the fossil evidence for an advanced parental care system in extinct dinosaurs is suggestive but inconclusive, and it is hard even to imagine the sort of paleontologic discovery that could settle this debate for good. The strongest evidence that extinct dinosaurs had some form of advanced parental care system is based on an understanding of the phylogenetic relationships among dinosaurs and their closest living relatives. Living dinosaurs (birds), even primitive ones such as ostriches and kiwis, exhibit parental care, so some form of parental care can be inferred to have existed in the last common ancestor of all birds. Although unappreciated, crocodiles are reptiles that are also caring parents. They build nests, guard the nests, and in some cases dig their young out of the nest when they hear the chirping young ones hatching. The young even communicate with each other while still in the egg by high-frequency squeaks (as birds do). Some evidence suggests that this squeaking is a cue for the synchronization of the hatching. Since birds and crocodiles share a common ancestor, the simplest explanation for the characteristics they share (such as nest building and some form of parental care) is that they evolved only once – that these attributes were present in their common ancestor and passed on to its descendants. Because extinct dinosaurs also descended from that ancestor, the simplest and most general theory is that extinct dinosaurs also shared these characteristics, even though they cannot be directly observed, and we cannot be sure how elaborate their parental care was.