Real predatory dinosaurs like the infamous tyrannosaurus rex It likely looked quite different from its movie star counterparts, and not just because they had feathers.theropods like T Rex The mouth could have been completely different. Instead of a lipless smile and permanently exposed teeth where the upper jaw hangs over the lower jaw like a crocodile, T Rex It may have boasted scaly lips that covered its teeth.
Details of this possible oral transformation are described in a new study published in the journal March 30. chemistryAn international research team says these lips resemble those of the lizard and its close relative, the tuatara. The last survivor of the reptiles that flourished during the age of the dinosaurs, the tuatara is a rare reptile found only in New Zealand that can live up to 100 years.
[Related: What are dinosaur feathers like?]
The team examined tooth structure, wear patterns, and jaw morphology in both lipped and non-lipped reptiles. They found that the function and anatomy of the theropod mouth actually resembled a lizard more than a crocodile. According to this study, this similarity is T Rex It had lizard-like mouth tissue and scaly lips covering its teeth.
“Palaeontologists often like to compare extinct animals to their closest living relatives, but in the case of dinosaurs, their closest relatives have been evolutionarily different for hundreds of millions of years. , is incredibly specialized today,” said study co-author Derek Larson, Curator and Researcher of the Royal BC Museum Paleontological Collections in Canada. “It’s quite remarkable how similar theropod teeth are to monitor lizards. From the smallest dwarf monitors to Komodo dragons, the teeth function in much the same way. So monitors , even if not closely related, can be compared very favorably with extinct animals like theropod dinosaurs based on this functional similarity.”
Moreover, theropod lips were probably not as muscular as those found in mammals. Most reptiles have lips that cover their teeth, but they cannot move independently. Humans and mammals can do all sorts of movements with their lips, such as curling their lips into a grunt or posing with a “duck face” in a selfie, but reptilian lips can’t.
The study also found that tooth wear in animals without lips was different from that seen in carnivorous dinosaurs. Dinosaur teeth were no larger than those of modern lizards compared to the relative size of their skulls. The teeth do not appear to have been large enough to be covered with scaly lips.
[Related: Is T. rex really three royal species? Paleontologists cast doubt over new claims.]
Another theropod lizard-like feature was the distribution of small holes around the jaws that supplied blood and nerves to the dinosaur’s gums and tissues in the mouth. When modeling the mouth closure of lipless theropod jaws, the research team found that the lower jaw would have to either crush the bone supporting the jaw or move the jaw joint apart to seal the mouth. bottom.
“As any dentist will tell you, saliva is important for maintaining dental health. damage, but not dinosaurs.In a statement.
According to the team, this prehistoric lip debate dates back to the 19th century, when scientists began reconstructing dinosaur fossils.It became more pronounced when I liked blockbuster movies Jurassic Park The documentary hit the screens and has since become deeply entrenched in popular culture.
“Curiously, there was no dedicated research or discovery that caused this change. It probably reflected a taste for new ferocious-looking aesthetics, rather than a change in scientific thinking,” says Paleontologists. Academic and co-author Mark Whitton, University of Portsmouth, said in a statement: “It subverts this popular depiction by covering its teeth with lizard-like lips. increase Jurassic Park T Rex“
The study provides new insights into how paleontologists reconstruct both the soft tissues and appearance of extinct species, and how scientists can feed, maintain dental health, and explore the broader spectrum of evolution. so that we can learn more about how to maintain good patterns.