Scientists have digitally reconstructed the brain of a dinosaur, which has given them a rare insight into its behavioural patterns and diet.
According to a CNN report, which quotes a study published by Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, researchers from the University of Bristol reconstructed the brain of a Thecodontosaurus, a sauropod, believed to have been spotted in England some 205 million years ago. The results revealed that the Thecodontosaurus’ diet could be meat-based and that they walked using two legs.
“Our analysis of Thecodontosaurus’ brain uncovered many fascinating features, some of which were quite surprising. Whereas its later relatives moved around ponderously on all fours, our findings suggest this species may have walked on two legs and been occasionally carnivorous,” Antonio Ballell, the lead author was quoted as saying. The study further stated that the Thecodontosaurus was in the shape of a large dog.
The report further states that while the fossils of the dinosaur were discovered in the 1800s, it is only recently that they can be studied without being destroyed. “Even though the actual brain is long gone, the software allows us to recreate brain and inner ear shape via the dimensions of the cavities left behind,” Ballell added. “The braincase of Thecodontosaurus is beautifully preserved so we compared it to other dinosaurs, identifying common features and some that are specific to Thecodontosaurus,” Ballell continued.
The creature’s braincase, as found out by researchers, has disclosed large floccular lobes. They help in balancing, indicating further that they moved on two feet. “This structure is also associated with the control of balance and eye and neck movements, suggesting Thecodontosaurus was relatively agile and could keep a stable gaze while moving fast,” Ballell was quoted as saying. New technologies aided in creating 3D models of both braincase and endocast.
“Our analysis showed parts of the brain associated with keeping the head stable and eyes and gaze steady during movement were well-developed. This could also mean Thecodontosaurus could occasionally catch prey, although its tooth morphology suggests plants were the main component of its diet. It’s possible it adopted omnivorous habits,” he was further quoted.