Navigation Links
Key to function of dinosaur crests found in brain structure

Paleontologists have long debated the function of the strange, bony crests on the heads of the duck-billed dinosaurs known as lambeosaurs. The structures contain incredibly long, convoluted nasal passages that loop up over the tops of their skulls.

Scientists at the University of Toronto, Ohio University and Montana State University now have used CT-scanning to look inside these mysterious crests and reconstruct the brains and nasal cavities of four different lambeosaur species.

At the annual meeting of the Society for Vertebrate Paleontology in Cleveland, Ohio, the team today announced new findings that suggest the crests were used for communication.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

"These scientists have used cutting-edge visualization and reconstruction techniques to show that duck-billed dinosaurs likely communicated via sound and signal, " said Adam Summers, program director in NSF's Division of Integrative and Organismal Systems.

"Trace fossils were once our main window into the behavior of long-vanished organisms," said Summers. "Now, it's clear that the reconstruction of hard tissues and associated soft tissue is a powerful tool for understanding behavior and physiology."

Some paleontologists have suggested that the crests heightened the sense of smell by increasing the surface area of the sensory tissue. Others have argued that they regulated temperature, and still others have speculated that the crests acted as sound resonators for communication.

"The shape of the brain can tell us a lot about what senses were important in a dinosaur's everyday life, and give insight into the function of the crests," said scientist David Evans, a paleontologist at the Royal Ontario Museum and the University of Toronto.

"It's difficult to infer the function of structures in an extinct dinosaur when there is so little resemblance to any living animal," said Jack Horner, a member of the team and paleontologist at Montana State University.

By using and analyzing CT scans, conducted by Lawrence Witmer and Ryan Ridgely of Ohio University's College of Osteopathic Medicine, the scientists were able to circumvent the problems of fossilization.

"Even though the soft tissues are not preserved in the fossils, the shape of the bones that encase the brain and nasal passages are," said Evans. "From there, the anatomy of these missing soft parts is easily interpreted."

The CT scan results revealed a mismatch between the external shape of the crest and the internal shape of the nasal passages in closely related species, suggesting a special function for the nasal cavity.

The portion of the brain responsible for the sense of smell was relatively small and primitive, indicating that the crest did not evolve to improve that sense.

Computer models done by other researchers suggest that the crests could have been used to make low, eerie bellowing calls that could have been used in communication, perhaps to call for mates or warn others of predators.

The CT scans documented a delicate inner ear that confirms that the dinosaurs could hear the low-frequency calls produced by the crest.

"We were surprised to see just how large the centers of the brain associated with higher cognitive functions were," said Witmer. "We suspected that the crested duck-billed dinosaurs used both vocal and visual displays, but now we see that they had the brain power and hearing to pull off these behaviors."


Contact: Cheryl Dybas
National Science Foundation

Related biology news :

1. Geron Demonstrates hESC-derived cardiomyocytes improve heart function after myocardial infarction
2. Device helps patients survive, regain function til transplant
3. Specific brain protein required for nerve cell connections to form and function
4. Systems Biology poised to revolutionize the understanding of cell function and disease
5. Women more depressed and men more impulsive with reduced serotonin functioning
6. Researchers expand efforts to explore functional landscape of the human genome
7. The endocannabinoids: Functional roles and therapeutic opportunities
8. Elevated nitric oxide in blood is key to high altitude function for Tibetans
9. Children with gene show reduced cognitive function
10. Unlocking the function of enzymes
11. MIT IDs proteins key to brain function
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Key to function of dinosaur crests found in brain structure
(Date:4/5/2017)... , April 5, 2017 Today ... announcing that the server component of the HYPR platform ... for providing the end-to-end security architecture that empowers biometric ... HYPR has already secured over 15 million users ... including manufacturers of connected home product suites and physical ...
(Date:3/30/2017)... 2017  On April 6-7, 2017, will host ... hackathon at Microsoft,s headquarters in Redmond, ... on developing health and wellness apps that provide a ... Genome is the first hackathon for personal genomics ... companies in the genomics, tech and health industries are ...
(Date:3/28/2017)... March 28, 2017 The report ... (Camera, Monitors, Servers, Storage Devices), Software (Video Analytics, VMS), ... - Global Forecast to 2022", published by MarketsandMarkets, the ... and is projected to reach USD 75.64 Billion by ... 2022. The base year considered for the study is ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... Dr. Bob Harman, founder and CEO of ... Club. The event entitled “Stem Cells and Their Regenerative Powers,” was ... Dr. Harman, DVM, MPVM was joined by two human doctors: Peter B. Hanson, M.D., ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... USDM Life ... for the life sciences and healthcare industries, announces a presentation by Subbu Viswanathan ... The presentation, “Automating GxP Validation for Agile Cloud Platforms,” will present a revolutionary ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... 2017 , ... The award-winning American Farmer television series will feature 3 Bar ... Tuesdays at 8:30aET on RFD-TV. , With global population estimates nearing ten billion ... continue to feed a growing nation. At the same time, many of our valuable ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 09, ... ... published on October 5, 2017, in the medical journal, Epilepsia, Brain Sentinel’s ... the gold standard, video EEG, in detecting generalized tonic-clonic seizures (GTCS) using ...
Breaking Biology Technology: