Scientists found that a dinosaur the size of a double decker bus had a brain that was only roughly the size of a tennis ball.

UK researchers found that the titanosaur, a dinosaur that lived around 72 million years ago, had a brain that is 6.3 cm big based on a skull of the dinosaur that was found in Spain last 2007.

With this discovery, the team was able to construct a digital image of the cavity for the brain as well as where cranial nerves and a number of blood vessels traveled around the skull.

Researchers were especially delighted by this find because, unlike the vertebrae, rib and other big bones, skulls are rare.  They are also known to be very fragile, so very few survive remaining complete and intact.

"This is such a rare finding that is why it is so exciting. Usually we find vertebrae or other bones, very rarely the braincase and this one is complete," said Fabien Knoll, researcher from the University of Manchester.

A titanosaur is actually a type of sauropod, a four-legged giant herbivore with a long neck and tail. It is a distant relative of the Diplodocus, and resembled a Brachiosaurus, two other gentle, long-necked herbivorous giants.

Titanosaurs lived in many parts of the world, with some of their fossils being found in Queensland, Argentina and New Zealand.  

There are different species of titanosaurs, with sizes and lengths ranging widely among species.

"Titanosaurs are a remarkable group of dinosaurs, with species ranging from the weight of a cow to the weight of a sperm whale," said Matthew Lamanna, a researcher who wrote a paper about the Dreadnoughtus schrani, a kind of titanosaur.  

However, because most of titanosaurs' fossils are found incomplete, much about them are still unknown. Titanosaurs' fossils and remains, in fact, often end up more scattered apart and incomplete than those of other dinosaurs.

The recovered skull, scientist said, could help them understand more about how dinosaurs lived and how they functioned on an intellectual and sensory level.

"Currently we know very little about the brain of dinosaurs," Knoll said.  He added that learning more about the dinosaurs' brains and nervous system is essential to understand more about their cognitive skills or how their senses perceived the environment.

Photo: Peter Rivera | Flickr 

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