Dinosaur dandruff? Yes, you read that right. Isn't that a bit weird?
A bunch of palaeontologists have discovered the oldest known case of dandruff - and it's not your grandfather. Also, the studies on a couple of other ancient feathered dinosaurs, Beipiaosaurus and Sinornithosaurus, and on an ancient bird, commonly referred to as Confuciusornis, have also uncovered fragments of dandruff.
The oldest fossilized dandruff has just been detected in a Microraptor, a species of tiny feathered dinosaurs that walked the Earth about 125 million years ago.
Paleontologists found tiny flakes of fossilised skin on a crow-sized microraptor, a meat-eating dinosaur that had wings on all four of its limbs.
The team discovered the fossilized skin of three feathered non-avian dinosaurs (Beipiaosaurus, Sinornithosaurus and Microraptor) and an early bird called Confuciusornis. It was found fossilized dandruff on their bodies, too, as said by The Guardian.
"This is the only ever reported fossil dandruff of any kind, so far as I am aware". The researchers wrote that this fossilised dandruff was nearly identical to that of modern birds and indicated dinosaurs clearly shed their skin in flakes.
How did they find out? "What's remarkable is that the fossil dandruff is nearly identical to that in modern birds - even the spiral twisting of individual fibers is still visible". As human dandruff, the skin flakes are composed of thick cells named corneocytes, packed with keratin proteins.
The report was published in Nature Communications and shows that dinosaurs which were covered in feathers evolved skin in order to manage with their plumage from the middle of Jurassic.
"We started wondering if it was a biological feature like fragments of shells or reptile skin, but it's not consistent with any of those things, the only option left was that it was fragments of the skin that were preserved, and it's identical in structure to the outer part of the skin in modern birds, what we would call dandruff". The fossilised remains of the animals were recovered in North Eastern China. The Beipiaosaurus and Sinornithosaurus had 2 meters long, growing nearly twice the size of the Microraptor. A meticulous researcher who's not afraid to be controversial, he is nationally known as a journalist who opens people's eyes to the realities behind accepted practices in the care of children.