A team of international palaeontologists came across the bizarre discovery, dubbed the world’s oldest dandruff, after excavating Cretaceous fossils of a feathered raptor in northeast China.
The raptor in question was a small, crow-sized microraptor which had wings on all four limbs but was unable to fly.
Palaeontologists closely examined the fossilised remains and found small specks of dinosaur skin on the prehistoric beast’s body
And dinosaur skin finding is being touted as a world first.
Maria McNamara, from University College Cork, said: “This is the only fossil dandruff known.
“Until now we’ve had no evidence for how dinosaurs shed their skin.”
The ancient skin flakes have now given scientists major clues about how dinosaurs disposed of their skins.
Unlike modern-day reptiles which shed their outer layers of skin in vast, large sheets, dinosaurs are now thought to dispose of theirs in small flakes – dandruff.
The archaeological dig’s findings were published in the science journal Nature Communications.
The paper reads: “Here we report the discovery of fossil skin, preserved with remarkable nanoscale fidelity, in three non-avian maniraptoran dinosaurs and a basal bird from the Cretaceous Jehol biota (China).
“The skin comprises patches of desquamating epidermal corneocytes that preserve a cytoskeletal array of helically coiled α-keratin tonofibrils.
“This structure confirms that basal birds and non-avian dinosaurs shed small epidermal flakes as in modern mammals and birds, but structural differences imply that these Cretaceous taxa had lower body heat production than modern birds.”
The palaeontologists wrote the skin flakes are “dandruff-like” in nature and irregular in their shape, size and thickness.
Photographs of the minuscule patches of skin were photographed with powerful electron microscopes, which eject electron beams instead of light to magnify tiny objects.
Among other things, the scientists concluded the dinosaur dandruff lacked fat, making their skin radically different to that of modern-day birds.
Modern birds have skin full of fatty corneocytes tied together with keratin.
This skin feature helps birds lose excess heat when flying suggesting the ancient bird-reptile hybrids did not get as warm.
Source : EXPRESS