Paleontologists first dug up the fossilized brain of a dinosaur

MOSCOW, 27 Jun – RIA Novosti. For the first time in the history of science in the UK paleontologists have discovered the fossilized brain tissue of a dinosaur, which belonged, probably, the iguanodon, or other duck-billed dinosaurs that lived in Europe during the Cretaceous period, according to an article published in the journal of the Geological society of London.

“We think that this dinosaur died around or inside a small pond, and his head was buried in silt and sand at the bottom. As the water in this pond contained very little oxygen and was very sour, the soft tissue of the brain has been “pickled” and were able to harden before the whole body of a dinosaur has been buried under sedimentary rocks,” says David Norman (David Norman) Cambridge University (UK).

Norman and his colleagues made this discovery by paleontologists-Amateurs, who conducted excavations in the vicinity of the town of Bexhill, on the South of the County of Sussex, off the coast of the English channel in 2004. One of them, Jamie Hiscox (Jamie Hiscocks), found a curious fossil, resembling the shape of a ball for game in Rugby.

After some time, this “ball” into the hands of Norman and his colleagues at the University who realized that Hiscocks managed to find a real paleontological treasure – fossilized remains of the brain duckbilled dinosaur that lived on the territory of the future British Isles in about 133 million years ago, early Cretaceous period.

At that time Europe was divided into a set of many Islands, separated from each other small and shallow Straits. Britain at that time were a fairly large island, which was dominated by the arid climate and associated steppes and semi-deserts. Sources of fresh water, apparently, that was not enough, and many bodies of water in particularly hot periods, dry out, becoming very salty and oxygen-free puddles.

In one of these puddles, as found by Norman and his colleagues after studying the fossils from Sussex, died iguanodon is a large duck-billed dinosaur or one of his closest relatives, who lived in Britain in the early Cretaceous period. The unusual chemical composition of “acid pools”, which were his remains, preserved for us the inner workings of his brain.

After this “Rugby ball” with the help of scanning electron microscope, British scientists were able to see the blood vessels inside the brain, its inner and outer shell, hints at different layers of the cortex, as well as some parts of the brain.

Their study showed that the brains of dinosaurs were not primitive and arranged that even relatively simple herbivorous “terror lizards” he was more like the brain of birds and crocodiles than to lizards brain. This is manifested in the fact that most of its volume was occupied by nervous tissue, not blood vessels, whose share usually accounts for more than half of the brain in lizards, as well as the fact that the brains of dinosaurs took the whole of their skull.

“Since we are unable to consider the hemisphere, we can’t determine how big was the brain of iguanodon. It is possible that dinosaurs actually had a more substantial brain than we used to believe, but one of the fossils to commit such a conclusion is clearly insufficient. Most importantly – it shows that brain tissue can turn into stone under the right conditions, and this finding, I hope, will be just the first of many such fossils,” concludes Norman.

Blood vessels inside the brain of a dinosaur