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Dinosaurs used the same tricks to hide as modern animals do

  • Sun, 13 Aug 2017 23:46

THIS fossil dinosaur, called Borealopelta markmitchelli, is about the size of a rhinoceros. It belongs to a group of armoured dinosaurs called ankylosaurs that thrived during the Cretaceous period. Borealopelta itself is from the early Cretaceous, about 110m years ago. It was found in 2011 by a tar-sand miner in Alberta, Canada. Since then, it has been prepared for study by a team led by Caleb Brown of the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, in Drumheller, Alberta.

What makes this specimen particularly intriguing, as Dr Brown and his colleagues report in Current Biology, is that it preserves chemical traces of the brown pigment involved in its camouflaging countershading. A countershaded animal has a dark dorsal surface and a light ventral one. That counteracts the extra illumination which the dorsal surface receives from sunlight, and makes the animal harder to distinguish from its background, disguising it from predators.

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