Remarkable preservation of brain tissues in an Early Cretaceous iguanodontian dinosaur

Brasier, Martin D. and Norman, David B. and Liu, Alexander G. and Cotton, Laura J. and Hiscocks, Jamie E. H. and Garwood, Russell J. and Antcliffe, Jonathan B. and Wacey, David (2016) Remarkable preservation of brain tissues in an Early Cretaceous iguanodontian dinosaur. In: ) Earth System Evolution and Early Life: a Celebration of the Work of Martin Brasier. Special publications (448). The Geological Society, London, SP448.3.

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Official URL: http://doi.org/10.1144/SP448.3

Abstract

It has become accepted in recent years that the fossil record can preserve labile tissues. We report here the highly detailed mineralization of soft tissues associated with a naturally occurring brain endocast of an iguanodontian dinosaur found in c. 133 Ma fluvial sediments of the Wealden at Bexhill, Sussex, UK. Moulding of the braincase wall and the mineral replacement of the adjacent brain tissues by phosphates and carbonates allowed the direct examination of petrified brain tissues. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) imaging and computed tomography (CT) scanning revealed preservation of the tough membranes (meninges) that enveloped and supported the brain proper. Collagen strands of the meningeal layers were preserved in collophane. The blood vessels, also preserved in collophane, were either lined by, or infilled with, microcrystalline siderite. The meninges were preserved in the hindbrain region and exhibit structural similarities with those of living archosaurs. Greater definition of the forebrain (cerebrum) than the hindbrain (cerebellar and medullary regions) is consistent with the anatomical and implied behavioural complexity previously described in iguanodontian-grade ornithopods. However, we caution that the observed proximity of probable cortical layers to the braincase walls probably resulted from the settling of brain tissues against the roof of the braincase after inversion of the skull during decay and burial.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: 2016AREP; IA71; weekly list
Subjects: 04 - Palaeobiology
Divisions: 04 - Palaeobiology
07 - Gold Open Access
Journal or Publication Title: Geological Society, London, Special Publications
Page Range: SP448.3
Identification Number: 10.1144/SP448.3
Depositing User: Sarah Humbert
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2016 23:05
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2016 23:05
URI: http://eprints.esc.cam.ac.uk/id/eprint/3760

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