Dino-chook dandruff analysis head and shoulders higher than rest — Scie…
Palaeontologists from University Higher education Cork (UCC) in Eire have found 125 million-year-aged dandruff preserved amongst the plumage of feathered dinosaurs and early birds, revealing the very first proof of how dinosaurs shed their pores and skin.
UCC’s Dr Maria McNamara and her team researched the fossil cells, and dandruff from modern day birds, with powerful electron microscopes for the review, released these days in the journal Character Communications.
“The fossil cells are preserved with unbelievable depth — ideal down to the stage of nanoscale keratin fibrils. What is actually amazing is that the fossil dandruff is almost equivalent to that in modern-day birds — even the spiral twisting of individual fibres is still seen,” explained Dr Maria McNamara.
Just like human dandruff, the fossil dandruff is built of tricky cells identified as corneocytes, which in lifetime are dry and total of the protein keratin.
The review implies that this fashionable skin attribute evolved sometime in the late Center Jurassic, close to the exact time as a host of other pores and skin attributes evolved. “There was a burst of evolution of feathered dinosaurs and birds at this time, and it’s enjoyable to see evidence that the pores and skin of early birds and dinosaurs was evolving fast in reaction to bearing feathers,” Dr McNamara extra.
Dr McNamara led the review, in collaboration with her postdoctoral researcher Dr Chris Rogers Dr Andre Toulouse and Tara Foley, also from UCC Dr Paddy Orr from UCD, Ireland and an international staff of palaeontologists from the United kingdom and China.
The dandruff is the first proof of how dinosaurs lose their skin. The feathered dinosaurs researched — Microraptor, Beipiaosaurus and Sinornithosaurus — evidently shed their skin in flakes, like the early fowl Confuciusornis analyzed by the staff and also present day birds and mammals, and not as a solitary piece or many substantial pieces, as in lots of present day reptiles.
Co-creator Professor Mike Benton, from the University of Bristol’s School of Earth Sciences, reported: “It is really unconventional to be able to analyze the pores and skin of a dinosaur, and the reality this is dandruff proves the dinosaur was not shedding its full skin like a modern lizard or snake but dropping pores and skin fragments from among its feathers.”
Modern birds have extremely fatty corneocytes with loosely packed keratin, which will allow them to cool down swiftly when they are flying for extended periods. The corneocytes in the fossil dinosaurs and birds, even so, had been packed with keratin, suggesting that the fossils didn’t get as heat as modern day birds, presumably simply because they couldn’t fly at all or for as long periods.