Other than ferocious teeth perpetually exposed in plain sight: predatory dinosaurs like T-rex had their teeth well hidden by thin scaly lips, just like lizards. This unexpected change of look, which overturns the image proposed for decades by films and illustrations, is suggested by a comparative study published in the journal Science by an international group of experts led by paleobiologist Thomas Cullen of Auburn University in the United States.
Researchers examined tooth structure, tooth wear and jaw morphology in groups of lipped and lipless reptiles and found that the anatomy and function of the mouths of theropod dinosaurs are more similar to those of lizards than those of lizards. of crocodiles. In fact, they observed that the wear of the teeth in lipless reptiles is very different from that of carnivorous dinosaurs and that the dinosaurs’ teeth were no larger, in proportion to the skull, than those of modern lizards, and therefore could be covered by the lip. Furthermore, in dinosaurs, the distribution of the small holes where nerves and blood vessels passed to the gums and mouth tissues was more similar to that of lizards than that of crocodiles. Finally, the model of mouth closure in lipless theropods shows that the jaw would have almost had to be disjointed to seal the mouth.
“Paleoartists have teetered on the lips issue ever since we began reconstructing dinosaurs in the 19th century, but lipless dinosaurs took over in the 1980s,” said study co-author Mark Witton of the University of Portsmouth. and Nineties. They have become so deeply ingrained in popular culture, through films and documentaries such as Jurassic Park and its sequels. Curiously, there has never been a dedicated study or discovery that has instigated this change, which probably reflected the preference for a fierce-looking new aesthetic rather than a shift in scientific thinking”.
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