Sinosauropteryx Dinosaur Had Bandit Mask Facial Pattern

Posted on October 26, 2017

Researchers from the University of Bristol say a small feathered dinosaur named Sinosauropteryx had a bandit mask-like stripe across its eyes. This type of facial mask is still seen on modern animals, such as raccoons. Scientists say it helps creatures avoid being detected by both predators and prey.

Sinosauropteryx was discovered in China. The Bristol scientists say the mask was one of multiple types of camouflage the dinosaur likely used.

Fiann Smithwick, the leader of the research study, says in the announcement, "Far from all being the lumbering prehistoric grey beasts of past children's books, at least some dinosaurs showed sophisticated colour patterns to hide from and confuse predators, just like today's animals. Vision was likely very important in dinosaurs, just like today's birds, and so it is not surprising that they evolved elaborate colour patterns."

The researchers were able to determine that dinosaur had a bandit mask by analyzing how dark pigmented feathers were distributed across its body. The analysis revealed some distinctive color patterns which include the dark stripe around the eye. Sinosauropteryx also had a striped tail and a counter-shaded pattern with a dark back and light belly.

Dr. Jakob Vinther, a senior author of the study, says, "They had excellent vision, were fierce predators and would have evolved camouflage patterns like we see in living mammals and birds."

A research paper on the study was published in the journal, Current Biology. Here is an interesting video from the University of Bristol about the reconstruction of Sinosauropteryx's color patterns.

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