Thursday 26 May 2016

Scans show Pawpawsaurus depended on sense of smell

MAY 24, 2016

by Brett Smith

A cousin of the tank-like Ankylosaurus, Pawpawsaurus didn’t have the club-like tail of its more famous relative.

However, the lesser-known dinosaur did have a strong sense of smell it likely depended on, according to a new study in the journal PLOS ONE.

The new study is based on the first-ever CT scans of Pawpawsaurus's fossilized skull.

"CT imaging has allowed us to delve into the intricacies of the brains of extinct animals, especially dinosaurs, to unlock secrets of their ways of life," study author Louis Jacobs, a professor of archeology at Southern Methodist University, said in a news release.

Although Pawpawsaurus’s olfaction was inferior to Ankylosaurus, the study team said, it was still better than some predatory dinosaurs like Ceratosaurus.

"Pawpawsaurus in particular, and the group it belonged to—Nodosauridae—had no flocculus, a structure of the brain involved with motor skills, no club tail, and a reduced nasal cavity and portion of the inner ear when compared with the other family of ankylosaurs," said Ariana Paulina-Carabajal, researcher for the Biodiversity and Environment Research Institute, San Carlos de Bariloche in Argentina. "But its sense of smell was very important, as it probably relied on that to look for food, find mates and avoid or flee predators.

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