Scientists describe in detail the orifice of dinosaurs

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Ricky Joseph

Researchers have succeeded in digitally reconstructing the fossil cloaca of a Psittacosaurus This allowed the conclusion that these prehistoric giants possibly attracted partners by smell and sight. However, let's go in parts.

First of all, a cloaca is an organ that is present in most reptiles and birds. This portion of the body serves as the final part of the digestive system, making the excretion of urine and feces. Moreover, the cloaca has reproductive function, that is, it is through it that occurs the transfer of spermatozoa from males to females. Fact is that dinosaurs also had cloacae, andresearchers found a fossil of this organ from a Psittacosaurus (a dinosaur of less than 1 meter, from the Cretaceous period) in great condition.

Jakob Vinther, a researcher at the University of Bristol and author of the paper, first observed in 2016 that the cloaca of Psittacosaurus could have allocated glands, possibly to exude biochemical compounds that attracted partners.

More recently, Vinther has observed evidence of large amounts of melanin on the outside of the dinosaur's cloaca. If present internally, melanin might have helped prevent infection. However, the presence of this molecule on the outside of the cloaca might suggest something different. It might be an indication that visual stimulation, i.e. vibrant colors, also attracted partners.

Jakob Vinther, Current Biology, 2021

Did other dinosaurs attract partners in the same way?

As the author himself points out, his conclusions were only possible due to the state of conservation of the fossil. This is because no other dinosaur cloaca has as many preserved details as the one in question. Therefore, it is possible to extrapolate and say that other dinos also used this attraction mechanism.

In fact, there is evidence that other dinosaurs may have used vibrant colors to attract attention from partners. However, the assumption that all dinosaurs behaved like dogs when attracting partners is still very preliminary.

The article is available in the journal Current Biology.

Ricky Joseph is a seeker of knowledge. He firmly believes that through understanding the world around us, we can work to better ourselves and our society as a whole. As such, he has made it his life's mission to learn as much as he can about the world and its inhabitants. Joseph has worked in many different fields, all with the aim of furthering his knowledge. He has been a teacher, a soldier, and a businessman - but his true passion lies in research. He currently works as a research scientist for a major pharmaceutical company, where he is dedicated to finding new treatments for diseases that have long been considered incurable. Through diligence and hard work, Ricky Joseph has become one of the foremost experts on pharmacology and medicinal chemistry in the world. His name is known by scientists everywhere, and his work continues to improve the lives of millions.