Scientists have recently been working on one of their most daring projects: recreating a dinosaur. It is a special project because this is no ordinary creature, but a camouflaged dinosaur, the first one of this type ever studied and accurately depicted. Researchers based their study on well-preserved fossils, which gave them information on skin and color pigments.
Researchers were able to identify the camouflaged dinosaur as a Psittacosaurus, also known as parrot-lizard. It was a small sized lizard, which lived in the Cretaceous era. Psittacosaurus had spikes on its tail, and its’ diet was based on plants. It had also discovered a magnificent way if keeping itself safe from big, fierce predators, namely camouflage.
The fossil discovered by the researchers reveals that the animal had a type of camouflage called countershading. This means that the dinosaur had a darker shade of color on his back than that on its belly. So the Psittacosaurus had a dark brown skin on its back, while its belly was light brown. This adaptation to the natural environment must have saved its life many times if attacked by large, carnivorous dinosaurs.
The team of scientists that studied the fossil stated that it was a remarkable discovery, unlike any other thing they had seen before. The remains are quite well preserved so that the researchers were even able to distinguish spot and stripes in the color pattern of the camouflaged dinosaur.
Based on the information they could gather from the analyzed fossil, the team of researchers reconstructed a Psittacosaurus. They paid attention especially to the colors and took their prototype to a botanic garden. They wanted to see how well it blends in with the environment. This test helped the researchers determine that the camouflaged dinosaur lived most likely in forests rather than different environments.
Specialists account for other interesting looks of dinosaurs, such as those with feathers. They believe that there is a high possibility that specimens displaying feathers might have used camouflage as well. However, plant-eating Psittacosaurus is the best-analyzed case and the first reconstruction of a dinosaur with such extraordinary features.
Nowadays, there are other animals which master the technique of camouflage. Chameleons, which change their color function of the environment, are one of the most famous animals in disguise.
The study on the fossils of the camouflaged dinosaur was published in Current Biology.
Image courtesy of: Wikipedia