Scientists create first 3D skull reconstruction of tetrapod from 360 million years ago

By Culture24 Reporter | 12 March 2015

Scientists use 3D scanning techniques to reveal more about tetrapods which once roamed earth

A photo of a dinosaur skull against a black background
The original fossil skull of Acanthostega gunnari © Dr Laura Porro
X-rays on the skull of a tetrapod which lived 360 million years ago show that the “crucial” species would have seized prey with its jaw and had a longer head than suspected, according to scientists in Bristol and Cambridge carrying out the first 3D reconstruction of the four-footed ancestor of land vertebrates.

Experts are likening the tetrapod to evolved crocodiles after scanning bones deep within the skull of a specimen with the help of complex software. Bones and teeth were separated and cracks were repaired in the skull, allowing scientists to conclude that the Acanthostega used large front teeth and a hook-shaped lower jaw to feed on other creatures.

A photo of various reconstructions showing parts of a dinosaur's skull
The 3D model showing the complete skull on top with 'exploded' views of the upper and lower jaws below© Dr Laura Porro
“Because early tetrapods skulls are often ‘pancaked’ during the fossilization process, these animals are usually reconstructed having very flat heads,” said Dr Laura Porro, the lead author on the study.

“Our new reconstruction suggests the skull of Acanthostega was taller and somewhat narrower than previously interpreted – more similar to the skull of a modern crocodile.”

Researchers now hope to use their methods on more flattened fossils derived from the earliest tetrapods, explaining how some of the first animals to roam land adapted to the challenges they faced.


What do you think? Leave a comment below.

A photo of a diagram of a dinosaur skull
© Dr Laura Porro
A photo of a diagram of a dinosaur skull
© Dr Laura Porro
More from Culture24's Dinosaurs and Fossils section:

New species of extinct British marine reptile emerges from Doncaster Museum storeroom

Experts say skull from South America shows largest rodent ever to have lived used teeth like tusks

Huge T-rex moved outside museum after sculptor's A1 lorry trip
Latest comment: >Make a comment
  • Back to top
  • | Print this article
  • | Email this article
  • | Bookmark and Share
    Back to article
    Your comment:
    DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted at www.culture24.org.uk are the opinion of the comment writer, not Culture24. Culture24 reserves the right to withdraw or withhold from publication any comments that are deemed to be hearsay or potentially libellous, or make false or unsubstantiated allegations or are deemed to be spam or unrelated to the article at which they are posted.
    image

    Events

    • 1 mile
    • 2 miles
    • 3 miles
    • 4 miles
    • 5 miles
    • 10 miles
    • 20 miles
    • 50 miles
    • Any time
    • Today
    • This week
    • This month
    • This year

    advertisement