Little is known regarding nonavian dinosaur embryology. Embryological period relates to myriad aspects of development, life history, and evolution. In reptiles incubation is slow, whereas in birds it is remarkably rapid. Because birds are living dinosaurs, rapid incubation has been assumed for all dinosaurs. We discovered daily forming growth lines in teeth of embryonic nonavian dinosaurs revealing incubation times. These lines show slow reptilian-grade development spanning months. The rapid avian condition likely evolved within birds prior to the Cretaceous–Paleogene (K–Pg) mass extinction event. Prolonged incubation exposed nonavian dinosaur eggs and attending parents to destructive influences for long periods. Slow development may have affected their ability to compete with more rapidly generating populations of birds, reptiles, and mammals following the K–Pg cataclysm.