Dinosaurs had been famously silly, however what about Theco, the Bristol dinosaur? In a brand new examine, simply revealed (October 2021), Bristol PhD college students Antonio Ballel and Logan King, actually don’t revise that view; there isn’t a proof (i’m afraid to say) that Thecodontosaurus was any extra brainy (or any extra silly) than every other dinosaur of its dimension. Nevertheless, their examine does present two issues: Theco held its head regular whereas shifting, sustaining a gradual gaze, and it had fairly good listening to.
The brand new examine relies on CT scans and detailed digital reconstruction from the wonderful Thecodontosaurus braincase within the collections at Yale College. Within the picture, you’ll be able to see the braincase (prime left), the reconstructed key bones (prime proper) and pictures displaying the semi-circular canals, highlighted in pink (backside left and proper).
The regular gaze proof comes from bumps on the facet of the Theco mind known as flocculi: in fashionable animals these help the animals in protecting their head regular as they run and duck and dive, utilizing two responses – one to maintain the eyes mounted on any object of their discipline of view, and the opposite to maintain the pinnacle regular. This new discovering confirms that Thecodontosaurus was adept at shifting bipedally, on its hind legs, and the mounted gaze variations would have helped it if it sometimes hunted prey. We’ve at all times mentioned Theco was a herbivore, and it primarily was, however many early dinosaurs appear to have combined and matched, and would have grabbed a juicy beetle or small lizard if that they had an opportunity.
It may also appear wonderful to have the ability to estimate the listening to capacity of a dinosaur. This may be performed utilizing normal formulation primarily based on measuring elements of the braincase and cochlear duct buried within the bone of the cranium. It was specialised to listen to low and center frequencies of sounds, much like different dinosaurs and early birds. These sounds might have included chirping and grunting from different Thecos, and so gives some proof for group residing and a few social behaviour the place they chattered to one another.