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Why Is the Collecta Irritator Dinosaur Model Black?
A black colored model of the dinosaur known as the irritant
The Collecta Irritator model, part of the company’s non-scale prehistoric animal model series, is painted black. This is an interesting color choice for a dinosaur model, most dinosaur models from Collecta have been painted in various shades of green or brown, but black is not a color often associated with such items, especially when we hope these replicas will appeal to young dinosaur fans and model collectors. Could the plumage of an extant bird found in Africa have influenced the design team?
Fossils from Eastern Brazil
Fossils of this dinosaur are associated with the Santana Formation of eastern Brazil, the skull showed a number of anatomical features associated with Spinosaurus, and thus Irritator is described as a member of the Spinosaurids. It is likely that this dinosaur, which may have been over eight meters long, was primarily a fish eater. Iritator was formally described in 1996 (Irritating challenger).
Why paint a dinosaur model black?
But why did Collecta choose to give the Irritator dinosaur model a predominantly black color? The proposed explanation may have something to do with this dinosaur feeding mainly on fish. Besides, the fossils attributed to this genus of Theropod dinosaurs were found in brackish/marine deposits, so it can be inferred that this large predator spent a lot of time near bodies of water. This would tie in with the theory that this dinosaur was a fish hunter.
When examining the material of the skull it can be seen that the position of the nostrils is towards the top of the head and not at the tip of the snout itself. The nostrils are not placed as far back on the skull as the nostrils of Spinosaurus (Spinosaurus aegyptiacus), but their position still suggests that Irritator could hold the tips of its jaws underwater and breathe. This evidence along with several conical teeth associated with the Santana sediments suggests that Irritator was indeed piscivorous.
Could the Black Heron provide a clue?
The Black Heron (Egretta ardesiaca), is a member of the heron family, is found in Africa, south of Sudan and is very common. It can often be seen feeding in the shallows of lakes, ponds, and even rice paddies, where it catches fish and amphibians. As this bird’s name suggests, its plumage is black, and one of its feeding techniques is to draw its wings forward to cast a shadow on the water. Fish are attracted to this shadow and therefore come close to the sharp beak and thus easier for the heron to catch. This feeding behavior observed in Black Herons is often referred to as “Dome Feeding”.
The benefits of dark plumage when hunting fish
If the Irritator were black or definitely dark in color, its outline above the water would be more difficult for fish in the water to spot, especially against a densely vegetated bank. Perhaps the Irritator held its hands in front of its jaws creating an area of shadow into which potential prey may have been tempted to swim. A black color, particularly on the top of the animal’s back would allow this creature to absorb heat from the sun very efficiently, little would be reflected behind a lighter colored more reflective surface. This may have helped this animal to keep warm while standing in relatively cool water.
It is interesting to speculate on the color choice on the Collecta Irritator dinosaur model. In fact, there is no evidence to help scientists determine what color the dinosaur known as the Irritator actually was.
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