This 'Pickled' Dinosaur Brain Was Miraculously Preserved for 133 Million Years
“We are simply amazed that we have any structures present given how delicate these things are.”
For the first time ever, paleontologists have identified fossilized soft brain tissue from a dinosaur, providing an unprecedented glimpse inside the heads of these iconic Mesozoic animals.
According to a Special Publication of the Geological Society of London released Thursday, an innocuous rock found near Bexhill-on-Sea in southern England contains traces of capillaries, partial cortical tissues, and meninges—protective membranes that envelop the brain—which belonged to an Iguanodon-like dinosaur some 133 million years ago.
It’s hard to overstate the sheer implausibility of this find. Examples of fossilized soft tissues are extremely rare because these organs deteriorate much faster than sturdier skeletal structures. Aquatic animals are more likely to experience some degree of tissue preservation because underwater sedimentary beds offer prime conditions for fossilization. But it is pretty much unheard of to find soft tissues of long-extinct terrestrial animals, let alone brain matter.