(ORDO NEWS) — Researchers from the University of Southampton and Ohio University have reconstructed the brain and inner ear of two British Spinosaurus.
Scientists believe that such a reconstruction will help to understand how these large carnivorous dinosaurs interacted with the environment and with each other.
The biggest oddity of this study is why spinosaurs evolved such specialized skulls while their brains remained the same as those of their ancestors. Scientists don’t know the answer yet
Spinosaurus are a group of theropod dinosaurs with long crocodile-like jaws and conical teeth. They led a semi-aquatic lifestyle, looking for and chasing prey on the banks of rivers.
They also hunted big fish. Their lifestyle was very different from that of more familiar theropods such as Allosaurus and Tyrannosaurus.
To better understand the evolution of the spinosaurus brain and senses, a team of scientists from the University of Southampton and Ohio University scanned fossils from Surrey and the Isle of Wight.
These are the oldest Spinosaurus for which the material of the meninges is known. Huge creatures roamed the planet about 125 million years ago.
The brain imprint on the skull of both specimens is well-preserved, and the team digitally reconstructed internal soft tissues that had long since rotted away.
The researchers found that the olfactory bulbs, which process odors, were not particularly developed, and the ear was likely tuned to low-frequency sounds.
Those parts of the brain responsible for maintaining a stable head position and fixing the gaze on prey may have been less developed than in later, more specialized Spinosaurus.
“Despite their unusual ecology, it appears that the brains and senses of these early Spinosaurus have retained much in common with other large theropods there is no evidence that their semi-aquatic lifestyle is reflected in the way their brains are organized,” says Chris Barker, lead research.
Probably the theropods, the ancestors of Spinosaurus, already had brains and sensory adaptations suitable for catching fish, and all Spinosaurus had to do for a semi-aquatic existence was to develop an unusual snout and teeth.
“Spinosaurus skulls are highly specialized for catching fish, so it’s amazing to see such a ‘non-specialized’ brain,” said one of the study’s authors, Dr. Darren Neish.
“But the results are still significant. It is very interesting to get so much information about sensory abilities – about hearing, smell, vestibular apparatus, etc. – from these British dinosaurs.
Contact us: [email protected]