Thursday, January 17, 2008

Fossilized wound?

I just came across this article on the National Geographic website. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. has the research article, if you're interested.

Here's the abstract:

This paper reports on a unique preservation of soft tissues in the ventrolateral region of the plant-eating dinosaur Psittacosaurus from the Jehol biota of China. The reservation is of a deep cross section through the dermis, which includes multiple layers of collagenous fibres in excess of 25, among the highest recorded in vertebrates, with a further 15 more layers (poorly preserved) estimated for the entire height of the section. Also, for the first time in a dinosaur two fibre layers parallel to the skin surface are preserved deep within the dermis at the base of the cross section. These fibre layers comprise regularly disposed fibres arranged in left- and right-handed geodesic helices, matching the pattern at the surface and reasonably inferred for the entire section. As noted from the studies on modern-day animals, this fibre structure plays a critical part in the stresses and strains the skin may be subjected to and is ideally suited to providing support and protection. Psittacosaurus gives a remarkable, unprecedented understanding of the dinosaur skin.

I can't get to the rest of the article because I'm not a subscriber, but I'm interested in what National Geographic had to say about Psittacosaurus's protofeathers (Brian wrote about this on his pre-Sb blog) and whether or not the research article tackles the subject.. The NG article said "The research also suggests that some dinosaurs had thick, scaly skin like that of modern-day reptiles, refuting the theory that dinos had primitive feathers." Interesting...

J calls this dinosaur "Pistachiosaurus."


Julia said...

Hehe - Paul calls Massospondylus Massive Spondulix.

They're so cute aren't they?

Brian said...

The paper isn't very good, actually (and it says nothing at all about the status of the bristles on Psittacosaurus). I blogged it a week or two ago here ( and I'll send you the paper, too!