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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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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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