A previously discovered nodosaur fossil, found near Alberta, Canada, was long hailed for the quality of its preservation. Details could be seen of skin and scale, as well as its horns and an almost angry glare. The clarity of that detail has now led to some new discoveries and inferences regarding how it might have used camouflage to protect itself from predators before its obviously heavy armor ever came into play.
The Nodosaur, A Hiding Tank
The test detected melanin, the same pigment found in human skin. It creates a brownish color, and sunlight can cause it to darken. Scientists also found pheomelanin, which produces more of a reddish color. From the tests, they concluded it would have a reddish brown back and a pale under belly. This is called countershading, and it is common in many modern prey species.
What is most striking is just how much of this huge animal’s evolution was based on protection from predators. The fact that it used camouflage while still maintaining such heavy weapons as a herbivore almost certainly means that there were bigger, more dangerous meat-eaters stalking this beast through the primordial jungle.