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Anat Rec. 1999 Oct 15;257(5):162-73.

Allosaurus, crocodiles, and birds: evolutionary clues from spiral computed tomography of an endocast.

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Salt Lake City VA Geriatrics Research, Education and Clinical Center, USA. Scott.Rogers@HCI.UTAH.EDU


Because the brain does not usually leave direct evidence of its existence in the fossil record, our view of this structure in extinct species has relied upon inferences drawn from comparisons between parts of the skeleton that do fossilize or with modern-day relatives that survived extinction. However, soft-tissue structure preservation may indeed occasionally occur, particularly in the endocranial space. By applying modern imaging and analysis methods to such natural cranial "endocasts," we can now learn more than ever thought possible about the brains of extinct species. I will discuss one such example in which spiral computed tomography (CT) scanning analysis has been successfully applied to reveal preserved internal structures of a naturally occurring endocranial cast of Allosaurus fragilis, the dominant carnivorous dinosaur of the late Jurassic period. The ability to directly examine the neuroanatomy of an extinct dinosaur, whose modern-day relatives are birds and crocodiles, has exciting implications about Allosaurus' behavior, its adaptive responses to its environment, and its eventual extinction.

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