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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
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ScienceShot: Some Dinos Liked a Midnight Snack
14 April 2011 2:02 pm
Some species of dinosaurs and ancient flying reptiles probably foraged at night, suggests a new fossil study of bony structures found in the eyes of many reptiles and birds. In modern creatures that have such structures, the sizes and proportions of these so-called scleral rings which reinforce the eye's outer tissues and surround the pupil, are reliable indicators of whether the animals are active during the day, night, or both. The relatively small size and internal diameter of the scleral ring in the falcon-sized pterosaur Scaphognathus crassirostris (depicted in purple, main image), compared to the size of the creature's eye socket, indicate that this flying reptile could see well only in bright light, researchers report online today in Science. However, the large internal and external diameters of the scleral ring in the toothy, retriever-sized Velociraptor mongoliensis (top image) suggest that the predator hunted at night. Although most flying reptiles analyzed for the study were active in daytime, four of the pterosaurs were apparently nocturnal and occupied ecological niches similar to those of today's bats. The findings defy the common wisdom that ancient mammals skulked about unbothered by predators presumed to have been active only in the daytime.
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