Forget what you saw in Jurassic Park! T.Rex did NOT have permanently exposed teeth – and instead had scaly, lizard-like LIPS, study finds
- T.Rex would have had scaly, lizard-like lips covering and sealing their mouths
- They have been wrongly portrayed in films such as Jurassic Park, experts say
They’re usually depicted baring their razor-sharp teeth as they chase down unfortunate prey.
But the T-Rex may not have looked so alarming in real-life, according to new research.
Scientists have discovered the dinosaurs would have had scaly, lizard-like lips covering and sealing their mouths.
And while this would still have been a terrifying sight, it indicates they have been wrongly portrayed in films such as Jurassic Park, the study suggests.
Theropod dinosaurs, a group of two-legged dinosaurs which includes the velociraptor as well as birds, were previously thought to have lipless mouths where visible upper teeth hung over their lower jaws, similar to the mouth of a crocodile.
Scientists have discovered T.Rex would have had scaly, lizard-like lips covering and sealing their mouths
They’re usually depicted baring their razor-sharp teeth as they chase down unfortunate prey. But the T-Rex may not have looked so alarming in real-life, according to new research
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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 lipped and lipless reptile groups and found that theropod mouth anatomy and functionality resembles that of lizards more 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, like they are in mammals, as most reptile 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 lips since we started restoring dinosaurs during the 19th century, but lipless dinosaurs became more prominent in the 1980s and 1990s.
‘They were then deeply rooted in popular culture through films and documentaries — Jurassic Park and its sequels, Walking With Dinosaurs, and so on.
‘Curiously, there was never a dedicated study or discovery instigating this change and, to a large extent, it probably reflected preference for a new, ferocious-looking aesthetic rather than a shift in scientific thinking.
‘We’re upending this popular depiction by covering their teeth with lizard-like lips.
The researchers said the lips were probably not muscular, like they are in mammals, as most reptile lips cover their teeth but cannot be moved independently or curled back into a snarl
A half-grown Tyrannosaurus, sporting a full set of lips, runs down Struthiomimus, a beaked ostrich dinosaur
‘This means a lot of our favourite dinosaur depictions are incorrect, including the iconic Jurassic Park T rex.’
The results, published in the journal Science, found that dinosaur teeth were no larger, relative to skull size, than those of modern lizards, suggesting they were not too big to be covered with lips.
Thomas Cullen, Assistant Professor of Paleobiology at Auburn University and study lead author, said: ‘Although it’s been argued in the past that the teeth of predatory dinosaurs might be too big to be covered by lips, our study shows that, in actuality, their teeth were not atypically large.
‘Even the giant teeth of tyrannosaurs are proportionally similar in size to those of living predatory lizards when compared for skull size, rejecting the idea that their teeth were too big to cover with lips.’
The researchers point out that their study doesn’t claim that no extinct animals had exposed teeth.
Some, like sabre-toothed carnivorous mammals, or marine reptiles and flying reptiles with extremely long, interlocking teeth, almost certainly did.
HOW THE DINOSAURS WENT EXTINCT AROUND 66 MILLION YEARS AGO
Dinosaurs ruled and dominated Earth around 66 million years ago, before they suddenly went extinct.
The Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event is the name given to this mass extinction.
It was believed for many years that the changing climate destroyed the food chain of the huge reptiles.
In the 1980s, paleontologists discovered a layer of iridium.
This is an element that is rare on Earth but is found in vast quantities in space.
When this was dated, it coincided precisely with when the dinosaurs disappeared from the fossil record.
A decade later, scientists uncovered 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 they were both probably caused by an enormous asteroid crashing to Earth.
With the projected size and impact velocity, the collision would have caused an enormous shock-wave and likely triggered seismic activity.
The fallout would have created plumes of ash that likely covered all of the planet and made it impossible for dinosaurs to survive.
Other animals and plant species had a shorter time-span between generations which allowed them to survive.
There are several other theories as to what caused the demise of the famous animals.
One early theory was that small mammals ate dinosaur eggs and another proposes that toxic angiosperms (flowering plants) killed them off.
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