Fossil brain teaser
A new study conducted at the University of Bristol and published online today in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology sheds light on how the brain and inner ear developed in dinosaurs. Stephan Lautenschlager from Bristol's School of Earth Sciences, together with Tom Hübner from the Niedersächsische Landesmuseum in Hannover, Germany, picked the brains of 150 million year old dinosaurs.
The two palaeontologists studied different fossils of the Jurassic dinosaur Dysalotosaurus lettowvorbecki: a very young (juvenile) individual of approximately three years of age and a fully grown specimen of more than 12 years of age.
Stephan Lautenschlager, lead author of the paper, said: "The two different growth stages of Dysalotosaurus provided a unique opportunity to study their brain, and how it developed during the growth of the animal."
Using high-resolution CT scanning and 3D computer imaging, it was possible to reconstruct and visualise the brain and inner ear of Dysalotosaurus lettowvorbecki -- a small, plant-eating dinosaur, which lived 150 million years ago, in what is now Tanzania.
Co-author Tom Hübner said: "Well-preserved fossil material, which can be used to reconstruct the brain anatomy is usually rare. Thus, we were fortunate to have different growth stages available for our study."
By looking at the brain and inner ear anatomy, the two researchers found that the brain of Dysalotosaurus underwent considerable changes during growth -- most likely as a response to environmental and metabolic requirements. However, important parts responsible for the sense of hearing and cognitive processes were already well developed in the young individual.
Stephan Lautenschlager said: "Our study shows that the brain was already well-developed in the young dinosaurs and adapted perfectly to interact with their environment and other individuals."
This study has important ramifications for the understanding of how parts of the brain developed in dinosaurs. However, further research into that field is necessary to investigate if the pattern of brain development in individual dinosaurs is also reflected in a large scale trend during the more than 150 million years of dinosaur evolution.
The study was funded by a research fellowship to Stephan Lautenschlager from the German Volkswagen Foundation.
Source: University of Bristol
- Fossil brain teaser: New study reveals patterns of dinosaur brain developmentfrom Science DailyMon, 20 May 2013, 12:00:16 EDT
- Fossil brain teaser: New study reveals patterns of dinosaur brain developmentfrom PhysorgMon, 20 May 2013, 11:30:39 EDT
Latest Science NewsletterGet the latest and most popular science news articles of the week in your Inbox! It's free!
Check out our next project, Biology.Net
From other science news sites
Popular science news articles
- New tool puts a consistent value on experts' uncertainty on climate change models
- Study: Answer to antibiotic-resistant infections could already be on the market
- Bearded dragons show REM and slow wave sleep
- Water storage made prehistoric settlement expansion possible in Amazonia
- A theory explains why gaming on touchscreens is clumsy
- Despite efforts, childhood obesity remains on the rise
- First multi-year study of honey bee parasites and disease reveals troubling trends
- We share a molecular armor with coral reefs
- CO2 fertilization greening the earth
- New curiously scaled beetle species from New Britain named after 'Star Wars' Chewbacca
- Dinosaurs 'already in decline' before asteroid apocalypse
- McMaster researchers achieve a first by coaxing molecules into assembling themselves
- First Salish Sea-wide shoreline armoring study shows cumulative effects on ecosystem
- Researchers identify enzyme link between excessive heart muscle growth, cancer growth
- Technique could help identify patients who would suffer chemo-induced heart damage