There are some “amazing” visions in this digital dinosaur brain

Researchers at the University of Bristol have digitally recreated a dinosaur brain using advanced imaging and 3D modeling techniques – and led to the discovery of some unusual features of the ancient creature.

“It’s great to see how new technologies allow us to learn more about how this tiny dinosaur lived more than 200 million years ago,” said vertebrate paleontology professor Mike Benton, co-author of the study, in a statement.

Thecodontosaurus, also known as the Bristol dinosaur, is one of the earliest dinosaurs we have fossils. Although discovered in the 1800s, the technology needed to create models that were detailed enough to unravel new scenes – without destroying the precious fossils – was not recent.

Thecodontosaurus was like some of its long-tailed relatives – like its favorite Brontosaurus – but like a funny midge, about the size of a large dog.

Anyway, that’s what we thought. But the researcher’s model dinosaur brain has raised questions about its locomotion shape – and it even reopens the debate about what it ate.

“The brain of Thecodontosaurus is beautifully preserved so we compared it to other dinosaurs, highlighting common features and some that are unique to Thecodontosaurus,” lead author Antonio Ballell said in the news.

Using a CT scan, the researchers were able to create models of the long-lost dinosaur brain in the abandoned caves. These revealed parts of the brain that are important for balance, as well as eye and neck movements.

They were also able to recreate the inner ear of a Bristol dinosaur, which suggested a higher listening range – perhaps a subtle sign of social complexity, as it could differentiate between different honors, squawks , squeaks, what have you.

The dinosaur brain also provided other information that was “quite remarkable”: its floccular lobes, which control balance, were quite large.

According to Ballell, this suggests two things that would put our understanding of Thecodontosaurus to his ear.

“It’s great to see how new technologies allow us to find out more about how this tiny dinosaur lived over 200 million years ago.”

Mike Benton

First, he did not walk on all fours like the Brontosaurus.

“(The lobes’) large size indicates that it was bipedal. This structure is also related to the control of balance and eye and neck movements, suggesting that Thecodontosaurus was relatively energetic and could keep it stable while it is moving fast. ”

This, in turn, according to the researchers, also gives some ideas about what he ate.

That’s because you keep a close eye on it all the time while moving at a speed just as you would expect from a predator.

The team’s study, published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, suggested that he may have had trapping and killing abilities, although other aspects of his anatomy argue a slightly different argument: his teeth are the good design for plants.

Ballell’s, however, found a potentially simple solution to this mystery: “It is possible that he embraced omnivorous practices.”