A team of Brazilian scientists reconstructed the brain of one of the oldest dinosaurs in the world, Buriolestes schultzi, whose fossil was discovered in the interior of Rio Grande do Sul. The reconstruction, described in a study published in the Journal of Anatomy, last Monday fair (2), can help to understand the behavioral habits of the small animal.
Found in 2015 by paleontologist at the Federal University of Santa Maria (UFSM) Rodrigo Temp Müller, the fossilized skeleton, about 233 million years old, belonged to a dinosaur the size of a basset hound dog, which lived between Brazil and Argentina .
The fossil had a rarity: a region of the skull called a neurocranium that is very well preserved. From the structure, it was possible to reconstruct the first complete brain of one of the oldest dinosaurs on the planet, a model that will be adopted as a reference for future studies.
Weighing 1.5 grams (lighter than a pea), the animal’s brain was reconstructed with the aid of computed tomography, which allowed the analysis of the skull cavities. The study revealed the presence of well-developed structures in the cerebellum region, indicating a good ability to track prey through sharp vision. His nose was not as developed, according to the researchers.
Relative of sauropods
Even though it is a small carnivorous animal, Buriolestes belongs to the same lineage from which sauropods originated, a group of giant, long-necked herbivorous dinosaurs, one of the largest that have ever walked the Earth.
According to the team of paleontologists at UFSM and the University of São Paulo (USP), comparing his brain with that of huge relatives allows us to understand the evolution of the lineage. Olfactory bulbs, for example, of little relevance in the studied fossil, were much more developed in sauropods, which had a keen sense of smell.
On the other hand, the cognitive capacity of the small dinosaur proved to be greater than that of the giants, an intriguing fact for scientists.