Pickled dinosaur: First fossilized dinosaur brain discovered

Photo credit: sciencenews.org

Photo credit: sciencenews.org

By Aphra Murray, Staff Writer

Dinosaur smarts were a mystery — until now. Researchers in the United Kingdom claim to have found the first fossilized dinosaur brain, leading to more concrete information about the external “plumbing” of the brain.

Believed to be about 133 million years old, the fist-sized brain was discovered in a tidal pool in southern England. The brain would have been buried in sediment at the time when the dinosaur died and over time would have been compressed by weight, transforming the sediment to hard rock. Ultimately, minerals replace the once live tissue in the brain, and thus a fossil is born.

Perhaps the most interesting part of this discovery is the way in which this particular fossil was preserved; an unlikely series of events took place that pickled the brain. In order for this to take place, the dinosaur probably fell head first into a swamp like pool of water. The water was composed of a unique combination of salty and acidic ions, creating the perfect “pickling” solution that kept bacteria from breaking down the flesh of the brain. The tissue then followed the conventional fossilization process that left it perfectly preserved. Researchers were able to identify folds where blood vessels exist and the topography of the brain.

While no detailed information about the inner workings of the brain can be taken from the find, this is truly an example of the “cool” discoveries that science is responsible for.

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Author: Aphra Murray

Aphra Murray '18 is an international student and a Chemistry major here at Gettysburg. For the past year and a half, she has been consistently writing for the Gettysburgian and this year will be taking over as editor of the MS&T section. While not writing, Aphra can be found working on her research in the Science Centre.

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