T.Rex did NOT have permanently exposed teeth – and instead had scaly, lizard-like LIPS, study finds
They are usually depicted with their razor-sharp teeth chasing unfortunate prey.
But according to new research, the T-Rex may not have looked so alarming in real life.
Scientists have discovered that the dinosaurs had scaly, lizard-like lips that covered and sealed their mouths.
And while this would still have been a terrifying sight, it indicates they’ve been misdepicted in movies like Jurassic Park, the study suggests.
Theropod dinosaurs, a group of bipedal dinosaurs that includes both the velociraptor and birds, were previously believed to have lipless mouths where visible upper teeth hung over their lower jaws, similar to a crocodile’s mouth.
Scientists have found that T.Rex would have had scaly, lizard-like lips that covered and sealed their mouths
They are usually depicted with their razor-sharp teeth chasing unfortunate prey. But according to new research, the T-Rex may not have looked so alarming in real life
But an international team of researchers now believe these dinosaurs had lips similar to those of lizards and their relative, the tuatara — a rare reptile found only in New Zealand.
The scientists examined the tooth structure, wear patterns and jaw morphology of lip and lipless reptile groups and found that the anatomy and functionality of theropod mouths is more similar to that of lizards than crocodiles.
They said this implies lizard-like oral tissues, including scaly lips covering the teeth.
The researchers said these lips were probably not muscular, as they are in mammals, since most reptilian lips cover their teeth but cannot be moved independently or curled back into a snarl.
Co-author Dr Mark Witton, from the University of Portsmouth, said: ‘Dinosaur artists have gone back and forth on the lips since we started restoring dinosaurs in the 19th century, but lipless dinosaurs became more prominent in the 1980s and 1990s .
“They were then deeply entrenched in popular culture through movies and documentaries — Jurassic Park and its sequels, Walking With Dinosaurs, and so on.
Oddly enough, no particular study or discovery has ever led to this change, and it probably largely reflected a preference for a new, fierce-looking aesthetic rather than a shift in scientific thinking.
We turn this popular image on its head by covering their teeth with lizard-like lips.
The researchers said the lips were probably not muscular, as they are in mammals, since most reptile lips cover their teeth but cannot be moved independently or curled back into a snarl.
A half-adult Tyrannosaurus, with a full set of lips, Struthiomimus, a beaked ostrich dinosaur, runs down
“This means many of our favorite dinosaur images are incorrect, including the iconic Jurassic Park T rex.”
The results, published in the journal Science, showed that dinosaurs’ teeth were no larger, relative to skull size, than those of modern lizards, suggesting they weren’t too big to be covered with lips.
Thomas Cullen, an assistant professor of paleobiology at Auburn University and lead author of the study, said: “Although it has been argued in the past that the teeth of predatory dinosaurs are too large for lips to cover, our research shows that their teeth were not unusually large.
“Even the gigantic teeth of tyrannosaurs are proportionally similar in size to those of living predatory lizards when compared to skull size, dismissing the idea that their teeth were too large for lips to cover.”
The researchers point out that their study does not claim that there were no extinct animals with exposed teeth.
Some, such as saber-gum-eating mammals, or marine reptiles and flying reptiles with extremely long, interlocking teeth, almost certainly did.
HOW THE DINOSAURS EDITED ABOUT 66 MILLION YEARS AGO
Dinosaurs ruled and dominated the Earth about 66 million years ago, before they suddenly became extinct.
The Cretaceous-Tertiary Extinction is the name given to this mass extinction.
For years it was believed that the changing climate was destroying the food chain of the huge reptiles.
In the 1980s, paleontologists discovered a low iridium.
This is an element that is rare on Earth, but found in large quantities in space.
When this was dated, it coincided exactly with when the dinosaurs disappeared from the fossil record.
A decade later, scientists discovered the massive Chicxulub crater at the tip of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, which dates to the period in question.
Scientific consensus now says that these two factors are linked and that they were both likely caused by a massive asteroid crashing into Earth.
At the projected size and impact speed, the impact would have generated a massive shock wave and likely generated seismic activity.
The fallout would have created plumes of ash that likely covered the entire planet and made it impossible for dinosaurs to survive.
Other animal and plant species had a shorter time span between generations that allowed them to survive.
There are several other theories about what caused the famed animals’ demise.
One early theory was that small mammals ate dinosaur eggs and another states that poisonous angiosperms (flowering plants) killed them.