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Paleontologists gain insight into a dinosaur’s ass



(Newser)
– It’s a first for paleontology, and one that can give a giggle. For the first time, scientists have been able to describe in detail the dinosaur cloaca. If you’re not familiar with that body part, CNET translates: It’s essentially “a jack-of-all-trades butthole.” The study published Tuesday in Current biology relates to a herbivorous dog size that lived about 120 million years ago, called Psittacosaurus. Researchers at the University of Bristol write that “it was previously noted that the mantle area was preserved”

;, although it was flattened out in this fossil, found decades ago in China, but the detailed anatomy of the region had not been reconstructed correctly. This was what they managed via a 3D model of the opening of the opening, which was used for defecation, urination, copulation and childbirth.

That New York Times notes “cloaca” comes from the Latin word for “sewer”, and it is not at all unique to dinosaurs: Some modern birds, reptiles, amphibians and a handful of mammals have one, but to the knowledge of scientists the cloaca is not preserved in any other non-avian dinosaur fossil. So how does this measure up to those we know? It is certainly in a class of its own, but mostly like those seen in crocodiles and alligators. While most closed openings or openings look like slits or holes, are Psittacosaurus have “discrete lateral lips, but they converge only anteriorly, giving the cloaca a unique v-shaped anatomy,” according to the study. These lips were highly pigmented, indicating that they may have a signal function, perhaps a sexual one; it is possible that they also had musk glands. (Read more discovery stories.)




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