Dinosaur fossils can be a biological puzzle, but technology like CT scans and 3D printing is helping scientists make new discoveries.
Kimberley Chapelle, a doctoral student at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, used the school's computed tomography (CT) facility to rebuild every bone in skull of a Massospondylus dinosaur so she could study the tiny features inside the cranium.
Her results from the CT scans, along with her findings, were published in a study (co-authored by Professor Jonah Choiniere) on Jan. 12 in the open-access science journal PeerJ.
While the Massospondylus dinosaur has been the subject of scientific studies before, its skull has never before undergone an in-depth anatomical study.
The paper includes details regarding the appearance of the inner and middle ear and how they contacted each other; how the nerves connected different parts of the skull to the brain; and how the bones around the brain were not fully fused.
Not only are these findings exciting for scientists studying the Massospondylus dinosaur, you, too, can download a 3D surface file of the skull in your own home.
"This means any researcher or member of the public can print their own Massospondylus skull at home," Chapelle told said in a statement.