Researchers examine first-ever dinosaur brain tissue
The first time discovery of a fossilized brain tissue from a dinosaur is expected to shed more light on the extinct species that lived during the early Cretaceous period, paleontologists believe.
The brain tissue in question, which looked like an unassuming brown pebble, was unearthed by a fossil hunter named Jamie Hiscocks in Sussex, England, more than ten years ago.
A fresh analysis of the tissue suggested that it belonged to Iguanodon, an enormous herbivore that lived around 130 million years ago. There are multiple bumps to the specimen that are quite characteristic of its fitting into a dinosaur’s brain.
Using a scanning electron microscope, the researchers were able to get images showing meninges (a tissue surrounding the brain), strands of collagen & blood vessels, and structures that could be from the brain’s cortex.
Lawrence Witmer, a paleontologist from Ohio University, said, “That’s a remarkable claim, just because brain tissue turns out to be one of the first things that decomposes after an animal dies. We would never expect to see actual brain tissue preserved.”
The researchers estimated that the dead dinosaur might have fallen into a bog or a swamp, where chemical conditions allowed the soft tissues in the massive creature’s head to become mineralized.
The findings were detailed in a special publication of the Geological Society of London on Oct. 27, 2016.