Tomography helped to identify the unique brain structure of the most armored Mesozoic dinosaurs

11 months ago

Paleontologists found out how the cranium, brain and blood vessels feeding it were arranged in the most “armored” Mesozoic lizards – ankylosaurs. It turned out that in sense of smell they were not inferior to tyrannosaurs, and they also cooled their brain well. This was written by the press service of St. Petersburg State University with reference to an article in the scientific journal Biological Communications.

“One of the most interesting abilities of the ankylosaurs that we discovered is that they could literally cool their brain. Their skull was pierced by a very complex network of veins and arteries that were directed not in one direction, but were connected between like railway lines. Due to this, blood could flow along them in different directions, which allowed these lizards to maintain optimal brain temperature, “said Ivan Kuzmin, one of the authors of the work, a junior research fellow at St. Petersburg State University.

The ankylosaurs were squat creatures, their whole body completely covered with large plates and cones. In addition, some ankylosaurs also had a peculiar bone club on their tail. Scientists suggest that her blows could knock down a tyrannosaurus and doom him to a painful death from fractures and bruises.

For a long time, paleontologists believed that, having reached a certain size, ankylosaurs became invulnerable to attacks by predators. At the beginning of the last decade, it turned out that this was not so. Scientists have discovered that ankylosaurs had a protective disguise. This is not characteristic of animals whose lives are not threatened by constant attacks of predators.

Secrets of the Mesozoic battleships
Scientists under the guidance of St. Petersburg State University Associate Professor Pavel Skuchas discovered several previously unknown unusual features of ankylosaurs. Using new scanning technologies, they examined the skulls of ancient lizards that were found in the Kyzylkum desert. Scientists made these finds at different times – both in the last century and more recently, in the rocks that formed at the end of the Cretaceous period, about 90–92 million years ago.

In particular, in 2002, in the territory of Kyzylkum, scientists found the skull of an ankylosaurus of the species Bissektipelta archibaldi, which became the first and so far the only representative of this genus of dinosaurs, whose fossils were found in the territory of the former Soviet Union. More recently, scientists began to argue about whether this lizard is a representative of a separate type of armored dinosaur.

To find out, Skuchas and his colleagues enlightened the skull of this ankylosaurus, as well as several other recently discovered fossils with the help of a new computer tomography system. Analysis confirmed that the Bissektipelta archibaldi really existed. Scientists also learned the structure of the brain of these dinosaurs and the blood vessels that feed it.

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