Fossilized dinosaur brain discovered on English beach

Dino brain(Source: University of Cambridge)

CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Thursday, October 27, 2016 5:35PM EDT

What at first sight looked like just another brown pebble on an English beach turned out to be the first known example of fossilized brain tissue from a dinosaur.

The brain tissue likely belonged to a species related to Iguanodon, a large herbivore that roamed the Earth approximately 133 million years ago, the Geological Society of London said in a blog post Thursday.

Scientists believe that the brain was “pickled” in water that was high in acidity and low in oxygen, which allowed the soft tissue to become mineralized.

“What we think happened is that this particular dinosaur died in or near a body of water, and its head ended up partially buried in the sediment at the bottom,” said David Norman of the University of Cambridge, who helped co-ordinate the research into the specimen.

The brain tissue was found in 2004,by fossil hunter Jamie Hiscocks, near the town of Bexhill in southeastern England.

Researchers used a scanning electron microscope to analyze the “pickled” matter. They were able to identify strands of collagen and blood vessels, as well as signs of brain cortex tissue.

The findings, published by The Geological Society, say the brain fossil shares similarities with the brains of modern-day crocodiles and birds. But researchers weren’t able to determine how big the dinosaur’s brain was.

Alex Liu of the University of Cambridge, the co-author of the paper, called the fossil discovery “astonishing.”

“The chances of preserving brain tissue are incredibly small,’ he was quoted as saying in the Geological Society blog post.

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