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Night skies 'suited flying dinosaurs'

world Updated: Apr 05, 2010 16:57 IST
Night skies

Like today's owl, flying dinosaur Archaeopteryx may have become alive at night, says a new study which spills the beans on the dino-bird's nocturnal lifestyle.

An international team, led by California University, has carried out the study and found that the eye sockets of Archaeopteryx were quite similar to those of modern nocturnal birds, the 'New Scientist' reported.

For their study, scientists analysed 77 bird species, to predict the foraging lifestyle of any species by measuring the bones that their eyes are set in.

Each bird pupil is surrounded by a ring of bony segments called the scleral ring. The team found that the outer and inner diameter of this ring, combined with the depth of eye sockets, could closely predict when a bird forages.

This opens up the tantalising possibility of discovering whether extinct birds were nocturnal, according to lead scientist Lars Schmitz.

The scientists are currently making detailed measurements but a quick look at Archaeopteryx fossils reveals that it had wide scleral rings and deep eye sockets, Derek Yalden at the University of Manchester said.

According to the findings, published in the 'Vision Research' journal, this would make the dino-bird nocturnal.