CLOSE
Xing Lida via Scientific Reports
Xing Lida via Scientific Reports

Dinosaurs May Have Performed Bird-like Dances to Attract Mates

Xing Lida via Scientific Reports
Xing Lida via Scientific Reports

We already know that dinosaurs were more similar to modern birds than to the lizards they’re named for. They had feathers, crests, and sharp vision, just like their aerial descendants. Now, a study recently published in Scientific Reports shows that they may have also performed bird-like dances as a way to woo the opposite sex.

The researchers studied roughly 50 fossilized scrape marks left in 100 million-year-old sandstone in western Colorado. The markings appeared in irregular clusters resembling the display arenas some birds gather in when competing for mates. Researchers compared the fossils to patterns made by puffins and ostriches and concluded that they were not the result of nesting or digging for water or food. Instead, they say, the five- and six-foot patterns of scratch marks more closely resemble those left behind by courting birds.

The specific dinosaur species responsible for the markings hasn’t been determined, but scientists suspect Acrocanthosaurus, a massive ridge-backed theropod whose tracks are similar to those spotted near the fossil site.

Paleontologists have long guessed that the prehistoric mating rituals of these creatures were similar to those of birds, but this is the first time they’ve found fossil evidence supporting the theory. It’s possible that the patterns were made for an entirely different reason. However, when it comes to speculating on the behaviors of a long-extinct species, looking at their closest living relatives is often the best place to start. 

The study’s leader, Martin Lockley of the University of Colorado at Denver, suggested to The Guardian that dinosaurs may have also produced vocal sounds during these rituals, as some birds do: “Can you imagine these dinosaurs getting really excited about mating, doing all of this frenzied physical activity, and then just being mute, silent?” 

[h/t: The Guardian]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
holidays
Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album
iStock
iStock

Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Animals
If You Want Your Cat to Poop Out More Hairballs, Try Feeding It Beets
iStock
iStock

Have you ever wondered if there’s a way to get your cat to poop out its hairballs instead of hacking them up? If so, you’re likely a seasoned cat owner whose tolerance for gross stuff has reached the point of no return. Luckily, there may be an easy way to get your cat to dispose of hairballs in the litter box instead of on your carpet, according to one study.

The paper, published in the Journal of Physiology and Animal Nutrition, followed the diets of 18 mixed-breed short-haired cats over a month. Some cats were fed straight kibble, while others were given helpings of beet pulp along with their regular meals. The researchers suspected that beets, a good source of fiber, would help move any ingested hair through the cats’ digestive systems, thus preventing it from coming back up the way it went in. Following the experiment, they found that the cats with the beet diet did indeed poop more.

The scientists didn’t measure how many hairballs the cats were coughing up during this period, so it's possible that pooping out more of them didn’t stop cats from puking them up at the same rate. But considering hairballs are a matter of digestive health, more regular bowel movements likely reduced the chance that cats would barf them up. The cat body is equipped to process large amounts of hair: According to experts, healthy cats should only be hacking hairballs once or twice a year.

If you find them around your home more frequently than that, it's a good idea to up your cat's fiber intake. Raw beet pulp is just one way to introduce fiber into your pet's diet; certain supplements for cats work just as well and actually contain beet pulp as a fiber source. Stephanie Liff, a veterinarian at Pure Paws Veterinary Care in New York, recommends psyllium powder to her patients. Another option for dealing with hairballs is the vegetable-oil based digestive lubricant Laxatone: According to Dr. Liff, this can "help to move hairballs in the correct direction."

[h/t Discover]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios