Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Duck-billed Dino Crests Not Linked To Sense Of Smell

Date:
January 31, 2006
Source:
University of Toronto
Summary:
After decades of debate, a U of T researcher has finally determined that duck-billed dinosaurs' massive but hollow crests had nothing to do with what many scientists suspected -- the sense of smell. Speculation about their function has led to theories that the crests functioned as everything from brain coolers to snorkels for underwater feeding. Now, David Evans, a PhD student in zoology at the University of Toronto at Mississauga, has been able to use a reconstructed brain cavity to rule out one historically popular theory: that the crests evolved to increase the animal's sense of smell.

Lambeosaurus.
Credit: Image courtesy of The Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology

After decades of debate, a U of T researcher has finally determined that duck-billed dinosaurs' massive but hollow crests had nothing to do with what many scientists suspected -- the sense of smell.

Speculation about their function has led to theories that the crests functioned as everything from brain coolers to snorkels for underwater feeding. Now, David Evans, a PhD student in zoology at the University of Toronto at Mississauga, has been able to use a reconstructed brain cavity to rule out one historically popular theory: that the crests evolved to increase the animal's sense of smell. "From the brain case, there's no indication that the nerves curled upwards into the crest, as we would expect if the crest was used for the sense of smell," Evans says.

"It appears that the brain changed very little from their non-crested dinosaur ancestors, and that the primary region of the sense of smell was located right in front of the eyes -- and coincidentally, that's where it is in birds, crocodiles, mammals and basically all four-legged animals."

Evans studied fossils from a group of herbivorous dinosaurs called lambeosaurs, which are often referred to as crested duck-billed dinosaurs. Lambeosaurs are easily recognizable for their large cranial crests, which contain elongated nasal passages and loop over their skull. Duck-billed dinosaurs are sometimes referred to as the "Cows of the Cretaceous period" and lived 85 million to 65 million years ago.

Evans reconstructed the dinosaurs' brain cavity using well-preserved fragments of fossilized bone and created the first-ever cast of the lambeosaur brain, which is approximately the size of a human fist. The findings add weight to two currently popular theories: that the crests were used to create resonant sounds to attract mates or warn of predators, or that they were used for visual display in mate selection or species recognition, similar to feather crests in some birds.

###

The study appears in the January issue of the journal Paleobiology and was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. Evans is now examining how the crests developed during the life spans of different lambeosaur species, which could shed further light on their purpose.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Toronto. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Toronto. "Duck-billed Dino Crests Not Linked To Sense Of Smell." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 January 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/01/060131091029.htm>.
University of Toronto. (2006, January 31). Duck-billed Dino Crests Not Linked To Sense Of Smell. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 15, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/01/060131091029.htm
University of Toronto. "Duck-billed Dino Crests Not Linked To Sense Of Smell." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/01/060131091029.htm (accessed September 15, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Monday, September 15, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Museum Traces Fragments of Star-Spangled Banner

Museum Traces Fragments of Star-Spangled Banner

AP (Sep. 12, 2014) — As the Star-Spangled Banner celebrates its bicentennial, Smithsonian curators are still uncovering fragments of the original flag that inspired Francis Scott Key's poem. (Sept. 12) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spinosaurus Could Be First Semi-Aquatic Dinosaur

Spinosaurus Could Be First Semi-Aquatic Dinosaur

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — New research has shown that the Spinosaurus, the largest carnivorous dinosaur, might have been just as well suited for life in the water as on land. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Meet Spinosaurus, the First-Known Water Dinosaur

Meet Spinosaurus, the First-Known Water Dinosaur

AFP (Sep. 11, 2014) — Spinosaurus aegyptiacus was adapted for both land and water, and an exhibit featuring a life-sized model, based on new fossils unearthed in eastern Morocco, opens at the National Geographic Museum in Washington on Friday. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NatGeo Unveils Life-Size 'Spinosaurus'

NatGeo Unveils Life-Size 'Spinosaurus'

AP (Sep. 11, 2014) — Scientists announced new findings about the first ever non-bird dinosaur that could have lived much of its time in the water. National Geographic created a life-size 50-foot model of the prehistoric creature. (Sept. 11) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins