The Tyrannosaurus rex is frequently shown with large, pointed teeth, similar to the vicious dinosaur in “Jurassic Park.” However, a recent study indicates that this traditional depiction may be inaccurate.
The enamel on T. rex and other large theropods likely had scaly lips, suggests research published in the journal Science on Thursday. The scientists discovered that the dinosaur’s teeth did not protrude while its jaw was closed, and even during a wide-open bite, just the tips were visible.
Scientists found clues in the pattern of wear and tear on tooth
The finding is the most recent in a lengthy debate about how dinosaur lips actually appeared.
Modern portrayals depict dinosaurs with large teeth that protrude from their closed mouths. Some believed the carnivores’ teeth were just too large to fit in their jaws, according to Thomas Cullen, an Alabama paleontologist and author of the research.
When scientists examined the skulls of dinosaurs with contemporary reptiles, however, they discovered that this was not the case. Many giant monitor lizards possess larger teeth than T. rex relative to the size of their skulls, yet can still squeeze them behind a pair of scaly lips, Cullen added.
T. rex was more hunched over than we used to think.
The scientists also discovered signs in the pattern of tooth surface wear and tear.
For a species like a crocodile, whose teeth protrude from its mouth, the exposed portion wears away rapidly, “as if someone took a sander to the side of the tooth,” said Mark Witton, a paleoartist at the University of Portsmouth in England.
Yet, when researchers investigated a Daspletosaurus tooth, a T. rex relative, they discovered that it was in fine health and lacked the pattern of uneven damage.
Thomas Holtz, a paleontologist from the University of Maryland who was not involved in the research, stated that the findings presents a strong case for lipped tyrannosaurs based on these and other anatomical indicators. Yet, “we’re not talking about kissable lips,” he said; they would be thin and scaly like the Komodo dragon, a huge reptile.
The dinosaur’s teeth didn’t stick out when its mouth was closed
That is not the first time that our representations of dinosaurs have been put into doubt. Previous research has demonstrated that T. rex was not as large as previously believed. rex was more hunched than previously believed, and that vicious velociraptors likely had feathers. The majority of what we know about dinosaurs comes from their bones, but it can be difficult to obtain definitive answers concerning soft tissues such as skin, which are typically not fossilized.
Witton stated that adding lips to dinosaurs may make them appear less fearsome, but also makes them more lifelike.
He stated, “You do not actually see a monster.” You perceive an animal.