OK, guys, this has gone far enough. I grew up on images of dinosaurs that portrayed T. rex as hulking, scaly, snaggle-toothed dinosaurs, stomping through jungles and roaring. Now look at this…this…revisionism.
Theropod dinosaurs such as the iconic Tyrannosaurus rex have long been portrayed with their teeth fully visible, similar to extant crocodilians. This pattern of portrayal largely had to do with relatedness between dinosaurs and crocodilians and the relationship between tooth and jaw size. Cullen et al. tested hypothesized facial reconstruction in this group using histological analysis of tooth wear patterns and quantitative relationships between skull length and tooth size in both extinct and extant reptiles. Contrary to depictions that have dominated for more than a century, they found that theropods, including T. rex, had lips that covered their teeth, leaving them looking more like modern Komodo dragons than crocodiles.
Apparently, they covered up their dagger-like teeth behind lips, like perfect gentlemen.
I tell you, if some smarty-pants does an analysis next that shows that T. rex had a lovely singing voice and went “tweet tweet,” I’m going to turn this thing around and cancel the time machine project. There’ll be no point.
Do we tell him about the idea that dinosaurs may have honked like geese and definitely didn’t roar like lions?
Reginald Selkirk says
It’s that time of year. Is this a real scientific finding, or is it just one day early?
PZ Myers says
Well, geese are pretty scary, so that’s not so bad.
What, no appreciation for T. Rex song greeting the morning? What a sourpuss!
OK, that song sounded more like rush hour on the freeway, loads of honking and snorts. Tweeting was and remains the domain of the short fingered tiny dinosaurs.
In other science news, a paper had been published that changed Samarium-146’s half-life down by 35 million years to 68 million years, previously being thought to be 103 million years. Samarium-146 being one of the measurements used in dating ancient rock samples.
When calculating, based upon the newer value, chaos ensued, as other element dating gave substantially different results.
This was documented, much querying ensued and the paper giving the new half-life was reviewed by the author and a lab error uncovered. The paper was submitted for retraction by the author.
In short, the news is, science worked as designed, rather than what’s been happening somewhat recently and authors of erroneous papers insisting on not retracting their papers.
It’s nice when everything works as it should!
The recent Prehistoric Planet series portrayed them with lips and a lot chunkier than people are used to. It still looked pretty damned formidable. The same, uh, can’t be said for Carnotaurus:
Always wanted to kiss a T. rex?
Matt G says
“My, granny, what big lips you have”!
“All the better to kiss you with, my dear”!
“I kissed a Rex, I liked it”
A 35 million year error is 34% of the original estimate. That’s quite a bit for a lab error. Did they forget to do the “checking it twice” step before submitting their paper? If I did an experiment that got a result that far off the expected, or nominal, value, my first thoughts would cluster around “what did I do wrong”, not “I need to get this into print”.
There’s also a href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyoxPknp670″>this 17 min lng clip on this question by Ben G Thomas from, erm, a while ago but still.
Okay, take II for the above hyperlink hopefully working now?
Rich Woods says
If T. rex had lips I suppose it might make it a little easier for the animal to drink. But its arms are still too short to raise a pint mug.
As longs as nobody says T. Rex was purple with a green belly, and hung around with elementary-school kids (no grooming!), I’ll retain at least some illusions. If anyone finds a fossilized fragment of sheet music with a partial first line beginning “I love you”, though…
Obviously, a lot of alleged science publications today are overrun with ‘mouthbreathing, knuckledraggers’, just like the red states. And, they want to create dinosaurs in their own image.
@12 rich woods said: If T. rex had lips I suppose it might make it a little easier for the animal to drink. But its arms are still too short to raise a pint mug.
I reply: great observation rich. Well, then, lets look for fossil remains of ‘T. rex drinking straws’
@ ^ shermanj : Great. Now I’ll be awake all night wondering about just how T-Rex actually did drink?!
Um, good question. Also same deal with the other good question of why didn’t I think of that and wonder about it before?
Also maybe not given I’m already half asleep now.. not that that’s unusual for me.
Larry @9, well, there was that mess with superluminal neutrinos, where the paper pretty much said, “Look, I know that this is wrong, can anyone figure out what we fucked up?”.
Alas, he took what results he got and didn’t question them. Guess he never heard of sanity testing.
Rich Woods @12, that’s why they’re always portrayed as being short tempered.
As for how they probably drank, ask a Komodo dragon.
@Rich Woods #12
“… raise a pint mug.”
Is that what the kids are calling it these days? ; )
No doubt why Turok and Andar always called them “honkers.”
This is terrible.
They look so much more serious and so much less friendly.
That’s because they didn’t catch them smiling, fishy.
@16. wzrd1 : Cool video and critter but the T-Rex is bipedal and has a very different weight balance so I wonder. Getting up from a lying down position seems like it would be rather awkward for them.. Picturing the T-rexes holding their huge heads up and mouth open to drink rain or waking up and doing same to suitably tall waterfalls. Imagine having lips would help there I guess..
So, you can’t possibly touch your toes and you don’t even have a tail to counterbalance you?!
Odd, even with a herniated disc, I manage that.
Despite bastards lowering the floor when I drop something…
Thomas Holtz says
“I tell you, if some smarty-pants does an analysis next that shows that T. rex had a lovely singing voice and went “tweet tweet,” I’m going to turn this thing around and cancel the time machine project.”
Not T. rex, but the following paper earlier this year suggested a more complex larynx (and thus the possibility for more complex vocalizations) for the armored dinosaur Pinacosaurus than previously known in non-bird dinosaurs:
Junki Yoshida, Yoshitsugu Kobayashi & Mark A. Norell (2023)
An ankylosaur larynx provides insights for bird-like vocalization in non-avian dinosaurs
Communications Biolog 6: 152
Thomas Holtz says
For those who want more about the new lip paper, here is a blog post by one of the contributors that goes into more details:
Oggie: Mathom says
Back in ’19, I dislocated my neck and needed surgery to save what was left of the nerves serving my arms and to fuse the vertebrae so it won’t happen again. This was major surgery. I was in the OR for seven hours. And in recovery for three.
According to my doctor, I spent at least some of the time in recovery giving a lecture on the cladistics of theropods, with special emphasis on Barney. According to the nurse — he checked in up in my hospital room after I had been there for an hour or so (mostly because he wanted to find out if I was actually a paleontologist) — I placed Barney in therozinosauridae. He said that I cited the upright posture, retroverted and expanded pelvis, short tail, lack of teeth, and his marked lack of propensity for utilizing the tender food sources dancing around him. Of course, the head didn’t fit, as Therozinosaurs tend to have very small heads in relation to the bodies, but Barney’s large head may have been an adaptation to a specific diet (watermelons?).
Anything he wants to drink. Anywhere. Anytime. After all, do YOU want to be tending bar and have to explain to a mildly inebriated T. rex, “No, mate, I think you’ve had enough for the nigh. Why don’t you wander home and sleep it off . . . ”
Yeah, didn’t think so.
I no longer have the book, but it was a collection of papers specifically about T. rex published in book form. One of the papers specifically dealt with lips on tyrannosaurs, arguing that the holes in the dentary were for blood vessels to supply the lips. This was some time ago (ten or fifteen years?). Or it may have been another book of papers on theropods in general. Now I don’t remember,*
*They say as you get older, the memory is the second thing to go.
I’ve tended that bar. Told the T. Rex, “Sorry mate, have to cut you off, as I drank the last barrel”. Job didn’t last long.
Memory is the second thing to go, but damned if I can remember what the first thing to go is.
ABC news has this :