The brain of the ampelosaur from Spain revealed in 3D

Jan 23, 2013
This image shows a 3D reconstruction of del cerebro de Ampelosaurus sp.'s brain. Credit: O. Sanisidro.

The remains of the ampelosaur found in 2007 in the site of Lo Hueco (Cuenca) have allowed the 3D reconstruction of the brain of this animal, according to an investigation in which the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) has taken part. The work, published today in the online journal PLOS ONE, has been carried out based on the fossilized remains of its skull, which are about 70 million years old (Late Cretaceous).

Up to now, only one species of the genus is known, Ampelosaurus atacis, which was discovered in France. However, the differences between the Spanish and the French fossils do not rule out that they could represent .

The researcher from the National Museum of Natural Sciences (CSIC) Fabien Knoll, who has conducted the investigation, considers that "more fossils are necessary to establish that we are dealing with a new species". For this reason, the team has identified the specimen as Ampelosaurus sp., which leaves open its specific identity.

Little evolved brain

The ampelosaur pertains to the sauropod group, large-sized dinosaurs that settled widely during the (which began 253 million years ago and ended 66 million years ago). More precisely, it is a titanosaur, a group of plant eating animals that were dominant during the last half of the Cretaceous (last period of the Mesozoic). The first sauropods appeared about 160 million years earlier than the ampelosaur.

This image shows Ampelosaurus sp.'s head with its 3D brain reconstruction. Credit: O. Sanisidro.

However, despite being the fruit of a long evolution, the brain of the ampelosaur does not show any notable development. Knoll explains: "This saurian may have reached 15 m in length; nonetheless its brain was not in excess of 8 cm". According to the CSIC researcher: "Increase in was not favored in the course of sauropod evolution".

Another of the characteristics yielded by the reconstruction of the Cuenca ampelosaur brain is the small size of the . According to Knoll: "This may suggest that the ampelosaur would not have been adapted to quickly move either its eyes or its head and neck".

In January of 2012, Knoll conducted the investigation that led to the reconstruction of another sauropod, Spinophorosaurus nigeriensis. The simulation in 3D of its brain revealed that that species, in contrast to what the study of the ampelosaur braincase demonstrated, presented a fairly developed inner ear.

For the CSIC researcher: "It is quite enigmatic that show such a diverse inner ear morphology whereas they have a very homogenous body shape; more investigation is definitely required".

Explore further: Limestone 'Venus' 23,000 years old dug up in France

Journal reference: PLoS ONE search and more info website

Provided by Spanish National Research Council

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Plant-eating dinosaur discovered in Antarctica

Dec 19, 2011

For the first time, the presence of large bodied herbivorous dinosaurs in Antarctica has been recorded. Until now, remains of sauropoda - one of the most diverse and geographically widespread species of herbivorous dinosaurs ...

Found: First complete remains of early sauropod dinosaur

Oct 28, 2010

Scientists have discovered in China the first complete skeleton of a pivotal ancestor of Earth's largest land animals – the sauropod dinosaurs. The new species, tentatively dubbed Yizhousaurus sunae, lived ...

New 'missing link' dinosaur discovered in Argentina

Mar 23, 2011

Fossils of a recently discovered dinosaur species in Argentina is a "missing link" in the evolution of the long-necked giants that roamed the earth millions of years ago, paleontologists said.

New 'shieldcroc' species of ancient crocodile discovered

Jan 31, 2012

A University of Missouri researcher has identified a new species of prehistoric crocodile. The extinct creature, nicknamed "Shieldcroc" due to a thick-skinned shield on its head, is an ancestor of today's ...

'Giraffe of the Mesozoic' Discovered

Sep 08, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- A creature dubbed a "Giraffe of the Mesozoic" has been discovered in China. The animal, with its giraffe-like long neck and long forelimbs is the first well-preserved Early Cretaceous brachiosaurid dinosaur ...

Recommended for you

Woolly mammoth skeleton sold at UK auction

Nov 26, 2014

The skeleton of an Ice Age woolly mammoth fetched £189,000 ($300,000, 239.000 euros) at auction Wednesday as it went under the hammer in Britain with a host of other rare or extinct species.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.