T-Rex's Brain Was Ready to Fly

CT scans reveal that non-avian dinosaurs had what look like 'bird brains'

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 31, 2013 2:50 PM CDT

(Newser) – Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's … T-Rex? Not actually, but you'll be forgiven if that's the image left by a new study that found some nonavian dinosaurs—including the lizard king himself—may have had "bird brains" wired for flight. Birds have big brain cavities, especially in the forebrain region, which is what gives them the vision necessary to fly, LiveScience explains. Now, scientists have found similar brain cavities in dinosaurs that never actually flew.

"For a long time, bird brains were considered really different than those in other so-called reptiles," says a study co-author. But in cases like this one, bird attributes "can be seen cascading down the tree of life." The finding also takes some of the shine off of Archaeopteryx; until now, it had been held up as a unique transitional species between dinosaurs and birds. Now, it appears it has lots of transitional company.

A replica of a full-length skeleton of Tyrannosaurus rex at the National Science Museum in Tokyo.
A replica of a full-length skeleton of Tyrannosaurus rex at the National Science Museum in Tokyo.   (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)
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