Saturday, January 19, 2008

Psittacosaurus Flesh Wound

A unique cross section through the skin of the dinosaur Psittacosaurus from China showing a complex fibre architecture. 2008. Theagarten Lingham-Solia. Proc. Royal Society B, published on-line, Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Illustration courtesy Theagarten Lingham-Soliar
The fossil of a dinosaur with a flesh wound has been discovered in northeastern China, offering the most complete view to date of dinosaur skin, a scientist says.
From National Geographic News:

The fossil is of a 130-million-year-old Psittacosaurus died after suffering a wound from a predator—or was perhaps bitten by a scavenger after it died—exposing the inner skin structure, which was preserved for millions of years. A recent study of the fossil identified what appeared to be tooth marks in the wound.

Lingham-Soliar has identified what he says is fossilized surface skin as well as a cross-section of the thick layer below the surface, called the dermis, around the animal's lower left side.

The animal's skin was at least 0.8 inch (2 centimeters) thick, with some 40 layers of a fibrous protein called collagen, making it ideal for defense against predators.

The research also suggests that some dinosaurs had thick, scaly skin like that of modern-day reptiles, refuting the theory that dinos had primitive feathers. [really?, ed.]