If you thought modern animals were the only ones who could have dandruff, a team of Irish researchers is here to contradict you. While studying the remains of some ancient birds and feathered dinosaurs, they discovered some traces of dandruff. This interesting find was preserved in a 125-million-year old fossil of the plumage of these creatures.
Dinosaurs had dandruff, too
During a regular study of some dinosaur remains, researchers from the University College Cork in Ireland spotted something really interesting. Trapped in the fossilized feathers of the ancient creatures, there was something that looked like dinosaur dandruff.
To clarify the situation, they used an electron microscope to look at the fossils. Afterwards, they compared the dinosaur dandruff with dandruff coming from modern animals. In terms of keratin layers and the placement of each cell, the two samples were extremely similar.
Dinosaur dandruff shows how similar dinosaurs and birds were
Such a discovery tells us a lot about the evolution of these creatures. The dinosaur dandruff samples allowed researchers to find out these features evolved near the end of the Middle Jurassic period. This coincides with the evolution of a few other skin traits, as well as the emergence of feathered dinosaurs and ancient birds.
Actually, the fact that dinosaur dandruff appeared was a direct reaction of evolving feathers. This phenomenon is the first example of shedding skin among the creatures. By looking at the shape and chemical composition of the dandruff, we find more similarities between dinosaurs and birds.
When they shed their skin, dinosaurs did it in flake shapes, just like modern birds. In contrast, modern reptiles shed their skin in a single piece and it doesn’t come out fragmented. These results show that birds directly evolved from dinosaurs and bear more genetic similarities with them than with other creatures.
The study on this interesting dinosaur dandruff was publishes in the journal Nature Communications.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons