Sorry, Hollywood: scientists are again to dispel yet one more certainly one of your misconceptions about T. rex. Though trendy renditions of our “tyrant lizard king” usually depict the carnivorous dino with a gaping maw, fearsome enamel and flapping tongue, new analysis means that the T.rex couldn’t transfer its tongue a lot in any respect, as Nicola Davis reviews for the Guardian. (The T. rex‘s terrifying mouth and chompers nonetheless maintain as much as scrutiny.)
Most dinosaurs, in actual fact, could have had tongues that have been rooted to the flooring of their mouths. Researchers on the University of Texas at Austin and the Chinese Academy of Sciences examined greater than 330 fossil specimens, together with small bird-like dinosaurs, giant plant-eating dinosaurs, flying pterosaurs and a Tyrannosaurus rex. More particularly, the scientists studied the dinosaurs’ delicate hyoid bones, which anchor the tongue to the mouth.
The workforce then used dissection and high-resolution photographs to look at the hyoid muscle groups and bones of 15 trendy animals related to dinosaurs, amongst them three alligators and myriad hen species starting from ostriches to geese, in keeping with a statement issued by the University of Texas at Austin. Researchers in contrast the dinosaurs’ hyoids to these of recent specimens, and revealed their findings this week within the journal PLOS One.
Most of the dinosaurs the workforce studied had quick and easy hyoids, much like these of alligators and crocodiles. As Davis explains within the Guardian, alligators and crocs have a “tear and gulp” strategy to consuming their meals; they don’t chew a lot, and due to this fact do not want a very lengthy or cell tongue. The tongues of the T.rex and different dinosaurs have been seemingly equally quick and easy.
Birds, in contrast, have very numerous and sophisticated tongues. “We take birds for granted, but they have crazy tongues,” Julia Clarke, a paleontologist at Austin and one of many authors of the examine, tells Davis. “The way that tongue is able to protrude so far is that these little skinny bones are super, super long – they are so long that in a hummingbird they wrap over the surface of the skull into the nose holes.”
The researchers discovered that bird-like dinosaurs and pterosaurs (which, bear in mind, aren’t dinosaurs however prehistoric reptiles) additionally had difficult tongue bones, which led them to posit that the evolution of range and mobility in tongues could be linked to flight. When historical creatures’ arms developed into wings, they wanted cell tongues so they might higher manipulate meals. As Theresa Machemer of National Geographic factors out, flight could have additionally allowed dinosaurs to entry totally different sorts of meals, which required specialised tongues and mouths.
But flight could not have been the one issue influencing the mobility of dinosaurs’ tongues. Ornithischians, an herbivorous group of dinosaurs that features the triceratops, additionally had complicated hyoids—maybe as a result of they wanted to chew their meals greater than dinosaurs just like the T.rex.
Like this text?
SIGN UP for our publication