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Researchers have an idea about how your lifestyle affects the way you see the dress, and we've identified a new ancestor to the dinosaurs!

Hosted by: Olivia Gordon
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Sources:
http://jov.arvojournals.org/article.aspx?articleid=2617976
https://www.nyu.edu/about/news-publications/news/2017/april/why-did-we-see-_the-dress-differently--the-answer-lies-in-the-sh.html
http://nature.com/articles/doi:10.1038/nature22037
http://press.nature.com/?post_type=press_release&p=77293
https://eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-04/vt-vts040717.php
http://palaeo.gly.bris.ac.uk/communication/boulton/archosaur.html

Images:
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hot_air_balloon_-_color_constancy.jpg
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Yellow-billed_stork_kazinga.jpg
Olivia: Remember that picture of a dress that broke the Internet two years ago? The one that had your entire Twitter feed arguing if it was white and gold or black and blue? We talked about the dress back then, but good news: there’s been some peer-reviewed research about it, because even scientists can’t resist a good viral picture.

Over the last two years, studies have tried to determine if things like gender or genetics play a role in what color dress you see — but a recent paper suggests it might have to do with your sleeping habits. Researchers from New York University surveyed more than 13,000 people about their perception of the picture, their lifestyle, and demographics, and the results were published last week in the Journal of Vision.

Their analysis found that whether you think the dress is in shadow or light seems to matter the most when it comes to what colors you see. People who thought the dress was in shadow were between 20 and 40 percent more likely to think it was white and gold than those who thought it was well-lit. That’s because of how your brain deals with color constancy, which is how scientists have explained the dress since day one.

As the lighting around an object changes, whether it’s because of a setting sun or an artificial colored light, your brain makes adjustments to keep it looking the same color. Otherwise, we’d be freaking out about a weird, color-changing universe. Now, since shadows are mostly blue, if you think the dress is in shadow, your brain might take some of the blue light out of the image. This makes the dress look white and gold.

On the other hand, artificial lights are more yellow, so your brain might have to subtract that color to make the dress look black and blue. Those results aren’t that surprising, since we’ve known how brains deal with color for years. But what was surprising is that your lifestyle might affect how you perceive the dress.

The researchers hypothesized that your perception of colors could be tied to whether you’re an early riser or a night owl. They figured people who get up early spend more time exposed to blue skies and natural light, while those who love burning that midnight oil see more yellow, artificial light. So the night owls might be more likely to assume the dress is lit by artificial light, so their brains adjust for yellowish light, and see black and blue — and the opposite for morning people.

And the statistics seemed to support those ideas! This suggests that something as simple as what lights you’re used to could actually affect how you perceive colors. Now, it’s still not a perfect hypothesis, and seems to only come into play when ambiguous lighting is involved.

More research will have to be done before we can say anything for sure. So if anyone else has weirdly lit dress photos they want to share, feel free to come forward!

In other news that’s changing our perceptions on a much larger scale, we’ve identified a new ancestor to the dinosaurs! As published this week in the journal Nature, paleontologists described a new reptile fossil found in Tanzania in 2015, which challenges how we think dinosaurs evolved.

Around 250 million years ago, during the Triassic period, a class of reptiles called archosaurs split into two main groups. One group went on to become modern-day crocodiles, and the other, sometimes called the bird branch, became dinosaurs and eventually birds.

Many paleontologists thought that the bird branch started with chicken-sized, two-legged reptiles, but they didn’t have the fossils to back that up. And turns out, their hypothesis was probably wrong!

They called this newly described reptile Teleocrater rhadinus. And, based on its features and where it was discovered in the rock layers, it’s believed to be one of the oldest members of the bird branch. But instead of being a small biped, it was 2 to 3 meters long and walked on four legs! It also shared features with dinosaurs and crocodiles — like similar skull features as dinosaurs and the same kind of ankle joint as crocodiles.

This species links together other groups of reptiles we hadn’t fully understood before, and paleontologists put them into their own, new group at the base of the bird branch, called Aphanosauria!

Another paleontologist actually discovered Teleocrater fossils back in the 1930s, but there weren’t enough bones to place it on the family tree. But this new discovery had enough clues to figure it out, like those ankle joints! This finding is also cool because we used to think some of Teleocrater’s features, like the distinctive skull shapes, evolved much later in dinosaurs. So scientists will have to reevaluate how we think about dinosaur evolution.

This research team will head back to Tanzania next month to hopefully dig up more information. But even now, it looks like early reptiles were even more diverse than we ever gave them credit for.

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