The surprising discovery of a fleshy comb on the head of a dinosaur may change scientists’ understanding of how many long-extinct species actually looked.
Evidence of the comb, described as similar to that of a rooster, was discovered on a mummified dinosaur by an international team, including an Australian. The specimen was a duck-billed dinosaur, Edmontosauraus regalis.
When Phil Bell, a palaeontologist at the University of New England, put a chisel in a space where there should never have been skin, and instead found evidence of a structure attached to the dinosaur’s head, his reaction was disbelief.
Hard crests have been seen in other dinosaurs, but this is the first time a soft-tissue display structure has been found. Dr Bell said the chemical and biological environments within the sediments where a dinosaur died have to be perfect to preserve or fossilise skin.
The skull of the dinosaur alone gives no hint of the fleshy comb, leading researchers to suggest other species may have had such unknown features too.