Nocturnal Dinosaurs May Have Been a Thing That Existed

It’s widely assumed that most dinosaurs were awake and active during both day and night. I mean, why wouldn’t they? … exactly. Regardless of this, there is now a study out of UC-Davis that claims that certain dinosaurs may have been entirely nocturnal.

Lars Schmitz and Ryosuke Motani of University of California, Davis, had the idea to figure out whether certain dinosaurs were nocturnal by comparing their eyes with those of still-living animals. Of course this could be a challenge, seeing as how they’re dinosaurs, but by comparing the scleral ring that is preserved in some fossils, Schmitz and Motani say they may have come across a method to figure out which dinos were day walkers, and which were night owls.

This is explained in better detail by David Hone of University College Dublin:

If you have a particularly circular orbit and a pretty circular scleral ring you can get a reasonably good idea of the size of the eyeball and the size of the iris within the eye. There’s certainly nothing wrong with applying that to dinosaurs.

So what did the two find? Well, by comparing the scleral ring and eye sockets of 33 Mesozoic dinosars with those of 1,401 living creatires on Earth today, they determined that certain species, like the Velociraptor, were at least partially nocturnal. This is opposed to most herbivores, which were active during the day and night alike.

TL;DR: If the raptors in Jurassic Park scared the crap out of you before, now you can rest easy knowing that they could also see quite well in the dark. Sleep tight!

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