The smell of the dinosaur –

This is not easy, given that paleontologists have at their disposal only the fossil of a single dinosaur cesspool that is well preserved. The cesspool is that part of the anatomy which, in lizards, turtles and birds, takes the form of a channel and ends with an orifice which is used as much for mating as it is for laying eggs and for removing waste .

A 3D reconstruction of the organ in question, which belonged 120 million years ago to a meter-long horned bug called Psittacosaurus, revealed two “flaps” of skin, which are not found in birds today. Their presence could be explained if they had protected glands producing musk, or the smell by which animals attract a partner.

The research on this cesspool, published on January 19 in the review Current Biology, joined a previous one who, pre-published last fall, compared this cesspool to that of the crocodile and concluded that the animal in question probably had a penis – unlike most birds, direct descendants of dinosaurs. But the question of smell more interested experts, because it is a trait which, 120 million years apart, has not really left any direct traces …

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