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Scientists have digitally reconstructed the brain of a dinosaur, revealing “surprising” insights into their diet and behavior.

Using advanced 3D modeling and imaging techniques, researchers at the UK’s University of Bristol “reconstructed” the brain of a Thecodontosaurus, a sauropod that roamed what is now England about 205 million years ago.

Experts found that unlike its herbivorous relatives Diplodocus and Brontosaurus, Thecodontosaurus may have eaten meat – and could have walked on two legs.

“Our analysis of Thecodontosaurus brain uncovered many fascinating features, some of which were quite surprising,” Antonio Ballell, a doctoral student at the University of Bristol’s Faculty of Earth Sciences, said in a statement.

Thecodontosaurus was the size of a large dog and lived in the Triassic age. (Getty)

“While its later relatives moved heavily on all fours, our findings suggest that this species may have walked on two legs and was occasionally carnivorous,” added Ballell, lead author of the study.

The codontosaurus, whose name means “set-toothed lizard,” was a dinosaur the size of a large dog and lived in the late Triassic.

Large fossils of the dinosaur, also known as the Bristol dinosaur, were discovered in the 19th century, but scientists have only recently been able to study the specimens in detail without destroying them, using 3D models generated from CT scans.

The experts digitally extracted bone from the rock and identified anatomical details about the dinosaur’s brain and inner ear that had not yet been seen in the fossil.

“Although the real brain is long gone, the software allows us to recreate the shape of the brain and the inner ear through the dimensions of the cavities that remain,” Ballell said.

“The brain box of Thecodontosaurus is beautifully preserved, so we compared it to other dinosaurs, identifying common features and some that are specific to Thecodontosaurus.”

Using CT scans of the brain box fossil, the researchers generated and studied 3D models of the brain box (the part of the skull that contains the brain and associated organs) and the endocast (the space within the brain box that contains the brain. ). (University of Bristol, UK) (Supplied)

The researchers found that the mold of the creature’s brain revealed large floccular lobes, which are important for balance, indicating that the dinosaur was moving on two feet.

“This structure is also associated with control of balance and movements of the eyes and neck, suggesting that the Thecodontosaurus was relatively agile and could maintain a steady gaze while moving fast,” said Ballell.

“Our analysis showed that parts of the brain associated with keeping the head stable and the eyes and gaze during movement were well developed. This could also mean that Thecodontosaurus could occasionally catch prey, although the morphology of its teeth suggests that plants they were the main component of his diet. He may have adopted omnivorous habits, “he added.

The experts also reconstructed the inner ears of the dinosaur and estimated that Thecodontosaurus had a high hearing frequency, which would have allowed it to recognize noises made by other animals, and suggests that it had some kind of social complexity.

The research was published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.


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