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Dinosaurs Continue to Baffle Scientists

dinosaurs continue to show new discoveries

Dinosaurs continue to baffle scientists with a plethora of new discoveries lately. Just recently, a newly uprooted mummy-like fossil of a duck-billed dinosaur was discovered with a comb on its head like a rooster. Edmontosaurus regalis, a duck-billed dinosaur that lived in North America, was found with remains that showed scientists that it did have a fleshy ornament on its head, unlike other duck-billed dinosaurs that have bony crests. The Edmontosaurus is named for being crestless, but now scientists suspect the animal was crested with the fleshy tissue remains of a comb.

Researchers say this opens up a whole new realm of ideas when it comes down to fleshy ornaments that may be present on a variety of dinosaurs. Scientists thought they knew a lot about this duck-billed dinosaur, but obviously we have so much more to learn. When the fossil was first found it didn’t look like there was much to be collected, other than a spinal column that was sticking out of the ground. The scientists decided to excavate it anyway, only to find that it had a partially preserved fleshy comb on its head.

The structure measured to be about 20 centimeters tall and 33 centimeters wide. When scientists scanned the structure they discovered that it did not contain any bony material. The comb-like structure was physically connected to the skull and even showed the preserved wrinkles of what was once living tissue. Scientists also claim that the body part was more than likely too soft to conduct sound through it like a bony crest would. It was also too small to be a source for fat reserves or for combat use. The tissue was more than likely used to identify gender for display, as a sign of age, or for species identity.

It really is hard to say why researchers have not found mummy-like impressions of the comb structure before. Some of the scientists ponder that an oversight may have prevented them from seeing it and that the structure was destroyed while researchers were trying to get at the skull. In any case, it is obvious dinosaurs will continue to baffle scientists when new discoveries like this keep popping up.

Recently there was a study on reptile breathing that now questions the evolution of dinosaurs. While researchers were studying breathing patterns in Savannah monitors, they discovered that their breathing methods may have evolved before dinosaurs. According to researchers at the University of Utah, the lizards actually breathe more like birds, alligators and possibly dinosaurs. About 270 million years ago, researchers now believe that the one-loop breathing technique developed. This new theory places the evolution of this breathing technique 20 million years sooner than what was once thought. Although, scientists seem uncertain as to why such a breathing pattern would develop in the first place. The unidirectional way of breathing does seem to help today’s birds fly at high altitudes were low levels of oxygen are present and prevents them from passing out.

It was once thought that dinosaurs may have developed the one-loop breathing technique in order to thrive in a low oxygen environment. The monitor lizards have different lung structures compared to dinosaurs and alligators, so it was possible that this unique way of breathing may have actually formed separately about 30 million years ago within the lizard’s ancestors. It was also believed that archosaurs, about 250 million years ago, brought forth the dinosaurs, birds and alligators.

But scientists are currently wondering that if a common ancestor did develop this unidirectional breathing technique 20 million years sooner than the dinosaurs, then it would have happened during high levels of oxygen in the atmosphere. So the mystery of when unidirectional breathing evolved remains unclear as dinosaurs continue to baffle scientists.

By Tina Elliott


National Geographic

Science World Report

Mother Nature Network


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