Paleontologists have discovered the oldest known navel of a 125-million-year-old fossil of a dinosaur in the genus Psittacosaurus. Oh, the fossil also had the first dinosaur asshole ever found.
As reported by Live Science, Psittacosaurus lived in the Cretaceous period, which was between 145 million and 66 million years ago, and scientists discovered this navel after exposing the fossil to a concentrated laser beam.
These researchers reported their findings in the journal BMC Biology on June 7, saying they discovered a “thin trace of a umbilical scar” which is a “small misalignment of the skin pattern and peeled off the dinosaur’s stomach and is the reptile equivalent of a mammal’s navel.”
While fetal mammals get their nutrients from a placenta, birds and reptiles get what they need from a yolk sac that is connected to the abdomen via blood vessels. When this type of creature hatches, the egg yolk is absorbed into the body and a scar in the stomach is all that remains.
For most birds and reptiles, the scar grows within a few days or weeks, but some reptiles, including alligators, may have the scar “beyond sexual maturity.” This fossil has shed new light on dinosaurs and gives an indication that some dinosaurs had these scars that did not heal early.
The fossil, known as SMF R 4970, was an early type of ceratopsian called Psittacosaurus mongoliensis that fell into a group of platypus animals that include Triceratops. It was discovered about 20 years ago, and it was so well preserved because the dinosaur was “fossilized while lying on its back.” This also led researchers to discover the previously mentioned “perfect” and “unique” backhole.
Using LSF imaging, we identified characteristic scales that surrounded a long umbilical scar in the Psittacosaurus specimen, similar to [scars in] certain live lizards and crocodiles, “said paleontologist Michael Pittman, an assistant professor at the School of Life Sciences at the University of China in Hong Kong, in the statement.” We call this type of scar a navel, and it is smaller in humans. . This specimen is the first dinosaur fossil to have preserved a navel, due to its exceptional state of conservation. “
Apart from its importance to science, this fossil has also been the subject of a “fierce repatriation controversy”. The fossil was discovered in an unknown region of China in the 1980s or 1990s and was “allegedly smuggled out of the country and into underground European markets before being bought and exhibited in 2001 at the Senckenberg Museum in Frankfurt, Germany.”
“There is a debate about the legal ownership of this specimen, and attempts to repatriate it to China have not been successful. Our international team of Australian, Belgian, British, Chinese and American members all hope for and support an amicable solution to this problem. ongoing debate “, the researchers wrote in their paper. “We think it is important to note that the sample was acquired by the Senckenberg Museum to prevent sale to private hands and to ensure the availability of scientific study.”
For more on dinosaurs, check out how Tyrannosaurus Rex may actually have been three separate dinosaurs and the newly discovered dinosaurs in England that were named “Hell Heron” and “Riverbank Hunter.”
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Adam Bankhurst is a news writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamBankhurst and on Jerk.