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Shuvuuia deserti, a tiny dinosaur that looked like an owl

A tiny meat-eating bird like dinosaur that lived 75 million to 81 years million years ago, during the late Cretaceous period (145.5 million to 65.5 million years ago), in what is now the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. The dinosaur had superb low-light vision and hearing that was likely as good as an owl's. And like an owl, the wee dinosaur probably used those exceptional abilities to stalk and catch its desert prey under the cover of darkness.

Owl-like Shuvuuia (shu-VU-ya) was a theropod — a three-toed and bipedal carnivorous dinosaur. There's only one known species, Shuvuuia deserti, and it was smaller than a domestic cat, measuring just 2 feet (0.6 meters) long. Prior analysis of Shuvuuia's fossilized eye bones revealed that it had large eyes that were specialized for seeing in dim light. But at the time, little was known about dinosaur adaptations for nocturnal activity. In a new study, scientists looked at skulls from dozens of species of extinct theropods and modern birds — the only theropod lineage that survived to the present. By comparing dinosaurs' fossilized eye and ear structures with those in living animals that have nocturnal habits, the researchers were able to see if a dinosaur was adapted for day or night activity. Roger Benson, a paleontologist at Oxford University who assisted in the study, found the bird's remains on the Ukhaa Tolgod and Tigrugiin shiree, in Mongolia, known as a dinosaur "graveyard." Scientists have studied the structure of a curve called the lagena, which is located in the cranial cavity of the bird, is responsible for maintaining balance and moving the head, and connects with the ear. Acute hearing helps nocturnal predators find prey. The longer the lagena, the better the animal's hearing. The bizarre animal appears in the first installment of Discovery's "Dinosaur World" documentary.

Source: UB info

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