What are the odds of finding a fossilized dinosaur heart? Until recently, most specialists would have said slim to none. But the seemingly impossible has occurred within the 66-million-year-old skeleton of a small, plant-eating Thescelosaurus, nicknamed ‘Willo’– and the structure of the heart is surprisingly advanced.
This website is a project of the Center for the Exploration of the Dinosaurian World, now being planned as a collaborative research venture by the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and North Carolina State University, both in Raleigh, N.C. The website has been established to present information about the unique fossil, reported in the April 21, 2000 issue of the journal Science.
A team of scientists in North Carolina and Oregon used medical technology to probe an iron-stained concretion inside the dinosaur’s chest. With the aid of imaging equipment and software, they were able to reconstruct 3-dimensional structures through the interior of the concretion. The images reveal a heart that was more like that of a bird or a mammal than those of reptiles, adding substantially to evidence suggesting that at least some dinosaurs had high metabolic rates. The specimen is on permanent display in the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.