Quirky Science | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 23, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, September 23, 2016

Quirky Science

Dinosaur Colour Pattern

After reconstructing the colour patterns of a well-preserved dinosaur from China, researchers from the University of Bristol have found that the long-lost species Psittacosaurus (meaning "parrot lizard," a reference to its parrot-like beak) was light on its underside and darker on top. This colour pattern, known as countershading, is a common form of camouflage in modern animals. The study published today in Current Biology led the researchers to conclude that Psittacosaurus most likely lived in an environment with diffuse light, such as in a forest, and has produced the most life-like reconstruction of a dinosaur ever created. Dr Jakob Vinther from the Schools of Earth Sciences and Biological Sciences, said: "The fossil, which is on public display at the Senckenberg Museum of Natural History in Germany, preserves clear countershading, which has been shown to function by counter-illuminating shadows on a body, thus making an animal appear optically flat to the eye of the beholder." Behavioural ecologist Professor Innes Cuthill from the School of Biological Sciences, added: "By reconstructing a life-size 3D model, we were able to not only see how the patterns of shading changed over the body, but also that it matched the sort of camouflage which would work best in a forested environment."

Origin of Minor Planets 

A team of researchers has clarified the origin of the rings recently discovered around two minor planets known as centaurs, and their results suggest the existence of rings around other centaurs. These findings were published on August 29 in Astrophysical Journal Letters, and introduced in AAS Nova, a website for research highlights from the journals of the American Astronomical Society.

The lead author of the paper is HYODO Ryuki (Kobe University Department of Planetology, Graduate School of Science), and co-authors are Professor Sébastien Charnoz (Institute de Physique du Globe/Université Paris Diderot), Project Associate Professor GENDA Hidenori (Earth-Life Science Institute, Tokyo Institute of Technology), and Professor OHTSUKI Keiji (Kobe University Department of Planetology, Graduate School of Science).

Centaurs are minor planets that orbit between Jupiter and Neptune, their current or past orbits crossing those of the giant planets. It is estimated that there are around 44,000 centaurs with diameters larger than one kilometer.

Until recently it was thought that the four giants such as Saturn and Jupiter were the only ringed celestial bodies within our solar system. However, in 2014 observations of stellar occultation (an event that occurs when light from a star is blocked from the observer by a celestial body) by multiple telescopes revealed that rings exist around the centaur Chariklo. Soon after this, scientists discovered that rings likely exist around another centaur, Chiron, but the origin of the rings around these minor planets remained a mystery.

 

 

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