Thanks to an ‘incredible’ fossil, paleontologists have confirmed that dinosaurs did indeed have belly buttons – and also set a new record for the oldest ever found in reptiles and mammals.
Scientists from the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and international collaborators in Argentina and the US used a high-tech laser imaging technique to make the discovery.
The technology revealed the finest details of a 125-million-year-old dinosaur fossil found 20 years ago in China, including a mark between the scales.
Dr. Michael Pittman, assistant professor in the CUHK School of Life Sciences, applied laser-stimulated fluorescence (LSF) techniques to a fossil skin specimen of a two-legged plant-eating Psittacosaurus that was two meters tall (6.5 feet) and dates back to the Cretaceous period. lived in
“We identified distinctive scales surrounded by a long umbilical mark in the Psittacosaurus specimen, similar to those of some living lizards and crocodiles,” said Pitman, joint-corresponding author of the study.
“This specimen is the first dinosaur fossil to contain a navel, due to its exceptional preservation status”.
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Unlike humans, dinosaurs did not have an umbilical cord because they lay eggs. Instead, the dinosaur’s yolk sac was attached directly to the body through a slit-like opening—a feature also found in other egg-laying land animals.
This is the opening that closes when the animal comes out, leaving a distinctive long umbilical mark that scientists still call the belly button.
While the egg-laying nature of dinosaurs predates a long belly button mark, this study is the first to support this hypothesis with fossil evidence.
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“While this beautiful specimen has been a sensation since it was described in 2002, we have been able to study it in an entirely new light using novel laser fluorescence imaging, which reveals the scales in incredible detail,” Dr. Pittman said.
Dr. Phil R. of the University of New England in Armidale, Australia. Bell, lead of the study and joint-corresponding author, commented, “This Psittacosaurus specimen is probably the most important fossil we have to study dinosaur skin. But it’s amazing what we can bring to life with new technology like laser imaging.” can.”
The specimen is on display at the Senckenberg Museum in Frankfurt, Germany.
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The findings were published in the International Journal of Biology BMC Biology.
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