Thanks to popular culture, most of us are familiar with the gargantuan theropod that is the Tyrannosaurus Rex. Colloquially, the animal is known as T.rex or T-Rex, which is an abbreviation of its scientific name – Tyrannosaurus rex. At the time, T.rex was one of the biggest carnivorous dinosaurs to ever live. In fact, a fully grown T-Rex would have reached heights of over 20 feet – which was as tall as a giraffe. However, the movies do not explain everything about this magnificent beast, and may have also misrepresented some facts. With the latest research, we can rediscover a few things about Tyrannosaurus Rex in a new light.
Did T.rex live in the Jurassic Period?
Contrary to popular belief, T.rex did not live in the Jurassic Period. It lived in the late Cretaceous Period which was roughly 85 – 65 million years ago. Fossil evidence suggests that T.rex had a wide distribution – from Canada in the north to New Mexico in the south. During that time period, the ecosystems that it occupied were semi-arid plains, coastal subtropical and inland areas. The average global temperature was also relatively warmer that today.
Did T.Rex Have Lips?
Popular culture often portrayed T.rex without lips. This meant when T.rex closed its jaws, it bared its giant, dagger-like teeth, just like modern crocodiles. However, current research shows that this may not have been the case. A closer analysis of T.rex’s teeth showed that it had a thin coating of enamel. To preserve this coating and to prevent the teeth’s subsequent decay, it must remain moist. Hence, T.rex needs lips to ensure that its teeth remain moist and protected. This claim is also supported by modern-day large lizards, such as the Komodo Dragon, which have enclosed teeth.
T.rex and its Super-specialized Teeth
T.rex was one of the most successful carnivorous dinosaurs to ever walk the planet. And this was partly due to its specialized teeth. The teeth of T.rex were serrated, much like a steak-knife. On taking a closer look, scientists observed patterns in the tooth tissue, which resembled cracks, which they believed was damaged – caused by high-impact grab and tear feeding. However, it turned out to be an internal type of fold – the tissues within each tooth were arranged in a unique way that improved their efficiency and function. This meant the teeth were near-unbreakable and extra tough. For a carnivore, this was very important and most likely was one of the contributing factors for the success of T.rex.
Triceratops was a herbivore and also one of the most recognizable dinosaurs thanks to the three horns and the giant frill on its head. It was also quite large, weighing over 12 metric tons and reaching lengths of about 30 feet. It was also preyed upon by tyrannosaurus as fossil evidence shows bite marks that fit the profile of the predator’s teeth. Adult T.rex had a gruesome feeding behavior where it violently tugged the head of its prey, from its body. Some fossils of triceratops have slash marks on the neck joints, and this was only possible if the head of the animal was ripped off. Scientists believe that the neck muscles of triceratops may have been a sought-after delicacy, hence the gruesome feeding behavior of the T.rex
The movies often portrayed T.rex with a deafening roar. However, this was not quite the case. Birds are the direct descendants of dinosaurs, especially the theropods (which also includes T.rex). Birds do not have vocal cords, instead, they have a special organ called the syrinx which is responsible for vocalization. Based on this theory, scientists speculate that even T.rex did not have vocal cords, making it impossible for these animals to roar. Instead, T.rex may have had air-sacs which are similar to today’s birds. This means that T.rex vocalized with its mouth closed – producing coos and booms like modern-day birds.
As stated above, birds are the direct descendants of theropods, which also included T.rex. Hence, it isn’t so hard imagining T.rex as giant, predatory chickens. However, the question still remains – did T.rex have feathers?
The general consensus in the scientific community is that t.rex may have had feathers when it was young – to keep itself warm. However, an adult T.rex was large enough to sustain its own body heat and would not have needed feathers. This is similar to large modern mammals such as elephants – which are large enough that they generate a lot of heat and do not require a lot of hair.
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Also Read: Discover the Scientific Name of T Rex