MEMORIE XXXVII-1

 

memorie

   

Cristiano Dal Sasso & Simone Maganuco

Scipionyx samniticus (Theropoda: Compsognathidae)
from the Lower Cretaceous of Italy

Osteology, ontogenetic assessment, phylogeny, soft tissue anatomy, taphonomy, and palaeobiology

 

 

 

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Gli autori conducono una vera e propria paleo-autopsia sul fossile di Scipionyx samniticus (soprannominato “Ciro”), primo dinosauro italiano e unico dinosauro al mondo fossilizzato con gli organi interni. Tecniche di studio innovative, quali la fotografia in luce UV, la TAC e la microscopia elettronica a scansione (SEM) affiancata alla microanalisi degli elementi, rivelano che i tessuti molli di Scipionyx sono conservati in modo eccezionale anche a livello cellulare e subcellulare, tanto da poterne vedere, dopo 110 milioni di anni, fibre muscolari, vasi sanguigni e capillari - e addirittura i batteri contenuti nell’intestino. La conservazione dell’apparato digerente e di numerosi resti di cibo in esso contenuti ha anche permesso di identificare le prede e ­ fatto unico per un fossile ­ di sapere in che ordine sono state ingerite. Una lunga lista di caratteristiche “ da neonato" indica che Scipionyx morì pochi giorni dopo la nascita. Ma le nuove scoperte, attese da tempo dalla comunità scientifica internazionale, sono tantissime... e rendono unica questa Memoria.

Monografia di 282 pp. con 186 illustrazioni, 3 tabs., 8 append., 10 artworks. Testo in inglese, con riassunto e didascalie in inglese/italiano. Informazioni addizionali:

pdf  Supplementary info 1

pdf  Supplementary info 2

 Through a real palaeo-autopsy, the authors provide a detailed description of Scipionyx samniticus, which represents the first dinosaur body unearthed in Italy and a unique specimen within the fossil record of Mesozoic vertebrates, thanks to its remarkably preserved internal organs. Investigation through ultraviolet-induced fluorescence photography, computed tomography and scanning electron microscopy coupled with element microanalysis, reveals that the soft tissues of Scipionyx are exceptionally preserved even at cellular and subcellular levels - to a point that, after 110 million years, muscle fibres, blood vessels and intestinal bacteria can be seen. Outstandingly, the  preservation of internal organs has permitted an analysis of the relative position of the food remains in the digestive apparatus and, thus, reconstruction of a feeding chronology for this specimen, an insight that is usually impossible to obtain for fossils. A long list of “neonate-like” characters indicates that Scipionyx was less than three weeks old at the time of death. A number of other new observations and data render this Memoir a unique contribution to science.

 

Commenti di M. Carrano, F. Huchzermeyer e K. Peyer, revisori di questa monografia
Comments by M. Carrano, F. Huchzermeyer e K. Peyer, referees of this monograph

“It is rare to have any dinosaur’s anatomy published in such detail, even when only the skeleton is present.  The unrivaled soft-tissue preservation makes some of the descriptions here unique, and they will be important when any future discoveries produce soft-tissue preservation.  It will be an extremely valuable contribution for comparative anatomy”.
Matthew Carrano (vertebrate palaeontologist), Washington DC, USA

 

“The amount of detail that has been extracted from the specimen in years of intensive studies with the help of up-to-date technology and the well-documented conclusions drawn from the find altogether constitute a major contribution to our widening knowledge and merit to be read by as wide as possible a public... I have to admit, that I enjoyed reading the exact anatomical descriptions. Except for the scientific contents they are somehow akin to poetry”.
Fritz Huchzermeyer (veterinary pathologist), Onderstepoort,  South Africa

 

“This description aids in a better understanding in how dinosaur functioned, behaved, what they ate at what rate. In return this information further provides a lot of new insights on the paleoenvironment. This little dinosaur not only brings new behavioral aspects to dinosaur research but also provides a large array of in-detail described anatomical characters which help understand the relations of compsognathids and how they relate to other theropods... Scipionyx also puts a newly renounced focus on the Pietraroja Plattenkalk and Italian dinosaur research in general. Great job”.
Karin Peyer (Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle), Paris, France