Thescelosaurus was about four meters long, apparently herbivorous and robustly built dinosaur from the group of ornithopods. For paleontologists, this creature was interesting perhaps only because it lived at the very end of the Cretaceous, at the time of the fall of the fateful planet in Chicxulub.
But now it turned out that the scientists were wrong. Indeed, neuroanatomical analysis of the Thescelosaurus brain revealed that these inconspicuous ornithopods probably possessed remarkable “supersenses” that allowed them to live underground. According to new findings, thescelosaurs were able to live directly under the feet of the feared tyrannosaurs and triceratops.
More interesting than it first seemed
“It’s really ironic. Paleontologists considered these creatures very boring,” admits the paleontologist Lindsay Zann from the University of North Carolina and head of the Department of Paleontology at the Museum of Natural History. “Thescelosaurus was about as exciting as toast to us. But when we looked at him more closely, we realized that there was something familiar about the combination of his weak and strong senses.“
Lindsay Zann and her colleague David Button from the British University of Bristol scanned an exceptionally well-preserved fossil skull of thescelosaurus Thescelosaurus neglectus with the help of computed tomography and based on the obtained images, they were able to reconstruct his brain tissue. The researchers published the results of their research in the latest edition of the scientific journal Scientific Reports.
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According to scientists, thescelosaurus had an exceptionally developed sense of smell and, conversely, very poor hearing, especially in the area of higher frequencies. He only heard about 15% of the frequencies that the human ear can pick up and 4 to 7% of the frequencies that dogs and cats can hear. Such an arrangement of the senses, together with massively built limbs, led researchers to the conclusion that thescelosaurs probably lived underground. At the same time, a similar ecological strategy is practically unknown among non-avian dinosaurs and shows that this group was even more diverse than we would expect.