SANTA MARIA, Brazil — The first complete brain of a dinosaur has been unveiled by scientists. Weighing less than a pea, it belonged to a meat eater that walked the Earth 233 million years ago. Named Buriolestes schultzi, it is an ancestor of the long necked sauropods — the most colossal of them all.
Amazingly, the perfectly preserved skeleton of the ferocious dinosaur included the braincase, enabling a precise reconstruction of its gray matter. Stunning computer images reveal regions involved in coordination: sight, smell, intelligence, and even reproduction.
The remarkable discovery sheds fresh light on the evolution of the biggest land animals that ever lived.
“The brain is a window into its behavior — and intelligence,” paleontologist Dr. Rodrigo Muller, of the Federal University of Santa Maria, tells South West News Service.
The findings show Buriolestes was an athletic and skilful hunter. It had better eyesight than smell. And it was not as smart as the Tyrannosaurus Rex or even today’s birds. The pet sized creature weighed about 14 pounds. It was small but vicious, similar in stature to a fox. Its sharp, curved teeth and claws would have ripped lizards and primitive mammals to shreds, as well as the young of other dinosaurs. It also ate insects.
Buriolestes was hunted itself by the “killing machine” known as Gnathovorax. The ten foot tall dinosaur was the apex predator of the period.
“The brain of Buriolestes is relatively small, weighing about 1.5 grams (0.05oz) – which is slightly lighter than a pea,” says Muller. “The shape is primitive, resembling a crocodile’s. In addition, the presence of well developed structures in the cerebellum indicates the capability to track moving prey. Conversely, the olfactory sense was not good. Buriolestes hunted and tracked prey based on sharp eyesight rather than smell.”
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Source: Study Finds