Pint-sized Mongolian menace shows dinosaurs loved the nightlife, too
The fossilized skeleton of the small bird-like dinosaur Shuvuuia deserti is seen in this undated handout image. Mick Ellison/AMNH/Handout via REUTERS
Under the cover of darkness in desert habitats about 70 million years ago, in what is today Mongolia and northern China, a gangly looking dinosaur employed excellent night vision and superb hearing to thrive as a menacing pint-sized nocturnal predator.
Scientists said on Thursday an examination of a ring of bones surrounding the pupil and a bony tube inside the skull that houses the hearing organ showed that this dinosaur, called Shuvuuia deserti, boasted visual and auditory capabilities akin to a barn owl, indicating it could it hunt in total darkness.
Their study, published in the journal Science, showed that predatory dinosaurs overall generally possessed better-than-average hearing - helpful for hunters - but had vision optimized for daytime. In contrast, Shuvuuia (pronounced shu-VOO-ee-ah) loved the nightlife.
Shuvuuia was a pheasant-sized, two-legged Cretaceous Period dinosaur weighing about as much as a small house cat. Lacking the strong jaws and sharp teeth of many carnivorous dinosaurs, it had a remarkably bird-like …
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