Scientists Find Fossilized Dinosaur Brain Tissue

Posted on October 27, 2016

Fossilized dinosaur brain tissue

Scientists have discovered fossilized dinosaur brain tissue for the first time. The fossil looks like an ordinary brown pebble to a layperson. It was discovered in 2004 by a fossil hunter Jamie Hiscocks in Sussex. It is the very first example of fossilized brain tissue from a dinosaur.

The fossil is thought to belong to a species closely related to Iguanodon. It has similarities to the brains of modern-day crocodiles and birds. The texture and structure of meninges, tiny capillaries and portions of adjacent cortical tissues have been preserved in the fossil specimen.

The scientists say the tissue is well-preserved because the dinosaur died near or in a body of water. The dinosaur's brain was "pickled" in a highly acidic and low-oxygen body of water, such as a bog or swamp. This allowed the soft tissues to become mineralized before they completely decayed.

Dr. David Norman from the University of Cambridge says in the announcement, "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. Since the water had little oxygen and was very acidic, the soft tissues of the brain were likely preserved and cast before the rest of its body was buried in the sediment."

A research paper on the discovery was published here in Geological Society, London, Special Publications. Dr. Norman and Dr. Alex Liu explain the discovery in the following video. Take a look:

Photo: Jamie Hiscocks