A fossil discovered on a Sussex beach more than a decade ago has been confirmed as a ‘pickled’ dinosaur brain.
The unassuming brown pebble is the first example of fossilised brain tissue from a dinosaur, that lived 133 million years ago during the Early Cretaceous period.
Oxford and Cambridge university scientists believe it belongs to a species closely related to Iguanodon, a large herbivores which had a long tail for balance and hind legs that were longer than their fore limbs.
And their brains displayed distinct similarities to the brains of modern-day crocodiles and birds.
Meninges - the tough tissues surrounding the actual brain - as well as tiny capillaries and portions of adjacent cortical tissues have been preserved as mineralised ‘ghosts’.
Co-author Dr Alex Liu of Cambridge’s Department of Earth Sciences said: “The chances of preserving brain tissue are incredibly small, so the discovery of this specimen is astonishing.”
The reason this particular piece of brain tissue has been so well-preserved is that the dinosaur’s brain was essentially ‘pickled’ in a highly acidic and low-oxygen bog or swamp shortly after its death.
This allowed the soft tissues to become mineralised before they decayed.
The fossil was found in Bexhill more than a decade ago by a fossil hunter Jamie Hiscocks,