It was first described by Henry Fairfield Osborn, in 1924.
Its name is Latin for 'egg thief', referring to the fact that the first fossil specimen was discovered atop a pile of what were thought to be Protoceratops eggs, and the specific name philoceratops means "lover of ceratopsians", also given as a result of this find.
In his 1924 paper, Osborn explained that the name was given due to the close proximity of the skull of Oviraptor to the nest (it was separated from the eggs by only four inches of sand).
However, Osborn also suggested that the name Oviraptor "may entirely mislead us as to its feeding habits and belie its character".
In the 1990s, the discovery of nesting oviraptorids like Citipati proved that Osborn was correct in his caution regarding the name.
These finds showed that the eggs in question probably belonged to Oviraptor itself, and that the specimen was actually brooding its eggs.
Oviraptor lived in the late Cretaceous period, during the late Campanian stage about 75 million years ago; only one definitive specimen is known (with associated eggs), from the Djadokhta Formation of Mongolia, though a possible second specimen (also with eggs) comes from the northeast region of Inner Mongolia, China, in an area called Bayan Mandahu.
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