First discovery of a dinosaur's navel in a well-preserved fossil

Image of article titled Dinosaur navel discovered for the first time in a well-preserved fossil

Drawing: Jagged fang designs

For the first time in history, paleontologists have identified an umbilical scar in a non-avian dinosaur. The first dinosaur navel!

In mammals, the navel is the scar that remains after birth when the umbilical cord falls off. In reptiles and birds, which hatch from eggs, there is no cord. Inside the egg there is a yolk sac and other membranes that connect directly to the abdomen of the embryo.

The umbilical scar, the non-mammalian form of a navel, occurs when the embryo separates from these membranes before hatching. And that’s exactly what paleontologists say they found in a dinosaur fossil.

According to a study published in BMC Biologythe discovery occurred in a particularly rare and well-preserved Psittacosaurus fossil.

Discovered in China, our Psittacosaurus was a bipedal dinosaur that lived during the early Cretaceous. It was an early form of ceratopsian, an order of herbivores with a beak that would later give rise to the popular Triceratops.

Image of article titled Dinosaur navel discovered for the first time in a well-preserved fossil

Image: Bell et al. 2022

The dazzling fossil at hand was discovered face up, still with skin and tail hair, 130 million years after its death.

Although his discovery was made public in 2002, paleobiologist Michael Pittman of the Chinese University of Hong Kong and his colleague Thomas G. Kaye of the Foundation for the Advancement of Science continue to reveal details of his past.

The scientists used laser-induced fluorescence, a self-invented non-destructive method, to find a “subtle scar” on the fossil’s abdomen. The surface of the wrinkled skin has smooth edges and is arranged along a central line, with no evidence of regenerated skin, which the researchers say suggests it was not the result of injury.

“We are finishing a detailed description of Psittacosaurus skin,” Pittman said. “That forced us to look at every square inch of the fossil, and that’s how the discovery of the umbilical scar happened.”

We know, because scientists compared the length of the femur of this fossil with that of other specimens, that our protagonist Psittacosaurus was between 6 and 7 years old, so it was already approaching sexual maturity.

Not all reptiles and birds we know retain their umbilical scar into adulthood, and it’s not clear if that’s the case for dinosaurs, or even Psittacosaurus. Some scars in birds and crocodiles come from yolk sac infections from being reared in poor conditions.

study fossil It is on display at the Senckenberg Museum in Frankfurt. Germany. Have to know good where to look see his navel.

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