Dinosaur from Austria was sluggish and hard of hearing – shows his brain

Struthiosaurus austriacus
Researchers look into the brains of dinosaurs from Austria: they were sluggish and hard of hearing

A living reconstruction of a dinosaur: Struthiosaurus austriacus from Austria’s late Cretaceous period

© Fabrizio De Rossi

The dinosaur Struthiosaurus austriacus was slow and had poor hearing. This is the conclusion of a study by the University of Vienna. Researchers have succeeded in taking a look into the skull of the dinosaur from Austria.

The Struthiosaurus austriacus was not one of the great dinosaurs. Rather, it would only go as far as the navel for adults. And his skull was also only five centimeters. Paleontologists from the Universities of Greifswald and Vienna have now examined it with a high-resolution computer tomograph. “This was the first time they were able to create a three-dimensional, digital cast of his skull,” said a statement from the University of Vienna.

Fossilized brain skulls, which enclosed the brain during life, are a rarity, but are of great importance for research. The brain of an animal can provide important information about its way of life. For example, digital casts of the cavities in such brain skulls made it possible to draw conclusions about the sensory organs and the posture of the skull.

About the way of life of the Struthiosaurus austriacus can be said that he was traveling quite slowly. The new findings would indicate “an extremely sedate lifestyle of this little Austrian herbivore”. In addition, the researchers found the shortest “cochlea” in the inner ear of a dinosaur to date. So the little dinosaur didn’t hear well either. “Ankylosaurier was sluggish and hard of hearing” it says in the title of the press release. For self-defense, he probably relied on the passive effect of his armor, study co-author Marco Schade is quoted as saying. This included long spines in the neck and shoulder area.

The dinosaur lived around 80 million years ago

The remains of Struthiosaurus austriacus were found near Muthmannsdorf south of Vienna. They have been part of the fossil collection of the Institute for Paleontology at the University of Vienna since the 19th century. The relatively small dinosaur lived around 80 million years ago in the late Cretaceous period.

With the Austrian newspaper “Der Standard” they take the new knowledge about the dinosaur from Muthmannsdorf with a pinch of humor and self-irony. Here Struthiosaurus austriacus is described in an article as the opposite of the “Hollywood cliché of the nimble, cunning killer machine”. And the deputy editor-in-chief Nana Siebert writes Twitter: “The only Austrian dinosaur was sluggish and hard of hearing – and somehow I like that a lot.”

Sources: “The standard”, “Nature”, University of Vienna


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