Paleontologists spend their entire academic life studying dinosaur anatomy. Now a team of scientists from the University of Bristol has finally described in detail the dinosaur cloaca or ventilation hatch, which is used for everything from defecation and urination to attracting a mating mate (or, less scientifically, the jack of all butthole trades).
In a new studyThe scientists, published in Current Biology on Tuesday, have unveiled a set of theories about the opening of the cervical opening on a dog-sized dinosaur called Psittacosaurus, a relative of Triceratops from the early Cretaceous period that lived about 120 million years ago.
“I noticed the mantle several years ago after we reconstructed the color patterns for this dinosaur using a wonderful fossil exhibited at the Senckenberg Museum in Germany that clearly preserves its color patterns and skin,” said Dr. Jacob Finther of the University of Bristol’s School of Geosciences. He said in a statement Tuesday.
“It took a long time before we finished because nobody ever bothered to compare the vents to live animals, so it was a pretty unrestricted area,” Finther added.
The researchers revealed that the dinosaur cloaca had similar features as the crocodiles and alligators’ cloaks. Areas of dinosaurs outer mantle were also likely to be highly pigmented. This pigmentation may have been used to attract a mate, such as using their baboons.
“We found that the hatch looks different in many different groups of tetrapods, but in most cases, it doesn’t tell you much about the animal’s gender.” Said Dr. Diane Kelly of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “These distinctive features are folded into a culvert, and unfortunately, they have not been preserved in this fossil.”
It was not only the appearance of the dinosaur hatch that attracted the attention of his mates, but also its scent. The large, dyed lobes on either side of the cloaca can also have musk scent glands to attract a mate’s attention.
“Knowing that at least some dinosaurs were pointing to each other gives Paleo artists the freedom to speculate about the whole range of plausible interactions now during courtship with dinosaurs,” said paleo artist and study artist Robert Nichols in a statement.
“It’s a game of change!”