An international research team has discovered the extremely old case of dandruff in the fossil of a feathered dinosaur that lived about 125 million years ago.
Although the search for dandruff specimens in dinosaur fossils that have long since died sounds a bit strange, The Discovery – the first and oldest known indication for skin excrement in dinosaurs – gives paleontologists an insight into the early development of the weird skin feature and how it used to be differentiates the case of dandruff in the modern day- Animals
Senior researcher Maria McNamara from University College Cork, Ireland, and the team studied the fossils of three feathered dinosaurs – Microraptor, Beipiaosaurus, and Sinornithosaurus – and a primitive bird named Confuciusornis, which was discovered from the northwestern Chinese rock formations Guardian reported.
The investigation revealed fossil scales or tiny flaky material in the feathers of all animals, with the four-winged Microraptor being the oldest of all. The group used a technique called electron microscopy to see the evidence of dandruff and its cellular structure in high resolution.
Just like human dandruff, the flakes found in these fossils were also from corneocytes, dead cells that were rich in protein keratin.
"The fossil cells are preserved with incredible detail – down to the level of nanoscale keratin fibrils," McNamara said in a statement. "It is noteworthy that the fossil scales are almost identical to those of modern birds – even the spiral twist of individual fibers is still visible."
The researchers compared their results with dandruff samples of modern animals and showed the tiny flake-like matter was more consistent in modern birds and mammals than in today's reptiles, which lose their skin layer as a single layer or several large pieces at once.
"It is unusual to be able to examine a human's skin dinosaurs and the fact that this is dandruff proves that the dinosaur does not shed its entire skin like a modern lizard or snake, but loses skin fragments between its feathers", co-author Mike Benton said in the statement.
She also found that dinosaurs began to shed skin during the late Middle Jurassic period, or about the same time as other skin features developed like feathers.
"There was a drill The development of feathered dinosaurs and birds at that time, and it is exciting to see evidence that the skin of early risers and dinosaurs developed rapidly in response to wearing feathers," McNamara added.
However, it is also worth mentioning animals that have been studied in the work may not have been able to fly like today's birds. Unlike today's birds, the dinosaur scales corneocytes were densely packed with keratin, a feature that indicated that their skin was not involved in evaporative cooling and did not deal with the amount of heat normally produced by flying.
"Petrified skin shows coevolution with feathers and metabolism in feathered dinosaurs and early birds," was published on May 25 in the journal Nature Communications.