Some 230 million years ago, in the forests of what humans would eventually call Brazil, a small bipedal dinosaur zipped after its prey. It had a slender head, a long tail and sharp teeth, and it was about the size of a basset hound.  

An artist’s concept of the skull and brain of the sauropodomorph Buriolestes, a small, late Triassic dinosaur.Credit...Márcio L. Castro and Rodrigo Temp Müller

An artist’s concept of the skull and brain of the sauropodomorph Buriolestes, a small, late Triassic dinosaur.Credit...Márcio L. Castro and Rodrigo Temp Müller

Buriolestes schultzi, as paleontologists have named the creature, is one of the earliest known relatives of more famous dinosaurs that emerged 100 million years later: the lumbering brachiosaurus, up to 80 feet long and weighing up to 80 metric tons, the likewise massive diplodocus, as well as other sauropod dinosaurs. By the time the Jurassic period rolled around and the time of Buriolestes had passed, these quadrupedal cousins had reached tremendous size. They also had tiny brains around the size of a tennis ball.

Buriolestes’s brain was markedly different, scientists who built a 3-D reconstruction of the inside of its skull report in a paper published Tuesday in the Journal of Anatomy. The brain was larger relative to its body size, and it had structures that were much more like those of predatory animals. The findings suggest that the enormous herbivores of later eras, whose ancestors probably looked a lot like Buriolestes, lost these features as they transitioned to their ponderous new lifestyle. It’s also a rare glimpse into dinosaurs’ neural anatomy at a very early moment in their evolution.

In 2009, Rodrigo Müller of the Universidade Federal de Santa Maria and colleagues discovered the first partial Buriolestes fossil in southern Brazil. In 2015, they uncovered another Buriolestes nearby — and this time, to their excitement, the dinosaur’s skull was nearly all there. They used computed tomography scanning to get a peek inside, drawing inferences about the brain from the contours of the cavity left behind.

Source

Noticias Relacionadas

Montana Lake Study Reveals How Invasive Species Affect Native Food Webs

Read News

ALMA Scientists Detect Signs of Water in a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Read News

Underground Tests Dig Into How Heat Affects Salt-Bed Repository Behavior

Read News

Global Carbon Emissions Rebound Close to Pre-COVID Levels

Read News