New Fossil Sheds Light on Evolution of How Dinosaurs Breathed
Published:11 Jul.2021    Source:European Synchrotron Radiation Facility
In 2016, scientists from the Evolutionary Studies Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, came to the ESRF, the European Synchrotron in Grenoble, France, the brightest synchrotron light source, for an exceptional study: to scan the complete skeleton of a small, 200-million-year-old plant-eating dinosaur. The dinosaur specimen is the most complete fossil ever discovered of a species known as Heterodontosaurus tucki. The fossil was found in 2009 in the Eastern Cape of South Africa by study co-author, Billy de Klerk of the Albany Museum, Makhanda, South Africa. ‘A farmer friend of mine called my attention to the specimen’ says de Klerk, ‘and when I saw it I immediately knew we had something special on our hands.’
Fast forward some years: the team of scientists, using scans and new algorithm developed by ESRF scientists to virtually reconstruct the skeleton of Heterodontosaurus in unprecedented detail, and thus show how this extinct dinosaur breathed. ‘This specimen represents a turning point in understanding how dinosaurs evolved’ explains Viktor Radermacher, corresponding author, South African PhD now at the University of Minnesota, US.