Non-avian dinosaurs were found to have “bird brains”, larger than that of Archaeopteryx, a 150 million-year-old bird-like dinosaur.
Once regarded as a unique transition between dinosaurs and birds, scientists say Archaeopteryx has now lost its pivotal place.
A recent discovery in China which unveiled the earliest creature yet discovered on the evolutionary line to birds, also placed Archaeopteryx in less of a transitional evolutionary place.
Bird brains tend to be more enlarged compared to their body size than reptiles, vital for providing the vision and coordination needed for flight.
Scientists using high-resolution CT scans have now found that these “hyper-inflated” brains were present in many ancient dinosaurs, and had the neurological hardwiring needed to take to the skies.
This included several bird-like oviraptorosaurs and the troodontids Zanabazar junior, which had larger brains relative to body size than that of Archaeopteryx.