Dinosaurs have 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, definitely don’t revise that view; there isn’t any proof (i’m afraid to say) that Thecodontosaurus was any extra brainy (or any extra silly) than another dinosaur of its measurement. Nonetheless, 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 may see the braincase (high left), the reconstructed key bones (high proper) and pictures displaying the semi-circular canals, highlighted in pink (backside left and proper).
The regular gaze proof comes from bumps on the aspect of the Theco mind referred to as flocculi: in fashionable animals these help the animals in holding their head regular as they run and duck and dive, utilizing two responses – one to maintain the eyes fastened 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 fastened gaze diversifications would have helped it if it sometimes hunted prey. We’ve all the time mentioned Theco was a herbivore, and it primarily was, however many early dinosaurs appear to have blended 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 capability of a dinosaur. This may be finished utilizing commonplace formulation primarily based on measuring components 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 may have included chirping and grunting from different Thecos, and so gives some proof for group dwelling and a few social behaviour the place they chattered to one another.