Researchers Digitally Reconstruct Titanosaur Brain Cavity From Fossilized Braincase

Posted on October 18, 2015

CT Scan of a fossilized titanosaur braincase

Researchers have digitally reconstructed the brain cavity of a titanosaur. The reconstruction was done using one of the most complete fossilized sauropod dinosaur braincases ever found in Europe. The titanosaur skull was found at a dig site in eastern Spain in 2007 at the Lo Hueco site.

The research team digitally reconstructed the cavity where the brain lay. They also reconstructed the passages of the cranial nerves and certain blood vessels as well as the labyrinth of the inner ear.

Titanosaur was a sauropod that lived about 72 million years ago. It was a herbivore with a long neck and long tail. The study found that its brain fit in a tiny cavity that was only about 6.3 centimeters (2.5 inches) in length.

Dr. Fabien Knoll, lead author of the research paper from The University of Manchester, says in a statement, "This is such a rare finding that is why it is so exciting. Usually we find vertebrae or other bones, very rarely the braincase and this one is complete. I was present on the dig site when it was uncovered and it was a very special moment. Currently we know very little about the brain of dinosaurs. Research such as this is fundamental if we want to get an idea about the cognitive skills of these animals or if they had keen hearing or good eyesight and plenty of other information."

A Skechfab of the titanosaur braincast and endocast can be found here. A research paper published in PLoS One can be found here.



Photo: Fabien Knoll, et al./PLoS One