STL Science Center

STL Science Center

31 January 2017

Brains and Skulls

The brains of animals are, to many, some of the most intriguing organs that one can study. I do not work with brains but they influence a great number of aspects of what I do study and, as such, are worth noting in the wider scope of my work. They develop unique shapes and intriguing areas of the brain have been poked, prodded, and described for a very long time in science. Many researchers are very interested in how the brains of fossil animals are shaped and what they were capable of. To that end, many fossil animals have had endocasts of there skulls molded and modeled. One study that discusses aspects of the braincase, not necessarily endocasts, was published by Oliver Rauhut in 2004. In this paper, the structure of neurovascular canals, pneumatic areas of the braincase, and the morphology of individual elements of the neurocranium are described. Apomorphies and implications for related theropods based on this cranial morphology are discussed as well, which is important in placing Piatnitzkysaurus in its family tree and filling out neighboring branches. Rauhut described another fragmentary skull in 2007 as well, this time focusing more on dental elements and teeth. One of the first mentions of the dinosaur, though, is also available for reading today (to a limited audience, sorry).  Published in Science in 1979, Bonaparte's article Dinosaurs: A Jurassic Assemblage from Patagonia described a number of Argentinian dinosaurs, including Piatnitzkysaurus.

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