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Colour patterns, known as countershading, in Psittacosaurus — a kind of dinosaur — protected it from predators, finds a new study.
Psittacosaurus was light on its underside and darker on top and most likely lived in an environment with diffuse light, such as in a forest.
Psittacosaurus had horns on either side of its head and long bristles on its tail and lived in the early Cretaceous period in China and has been found in the same rock strata where many feathered dinosaurs have been found.
“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,” said Jakob Vinther of the University of Bristol, Britain, in the the study published in Current Biology.
“By reconstructing a life-size 3D model, we were able to see how the patterns of shading changed over the body,” said Innes Cuthill, professor at the University of Bristol.