T. Rex could not hold her tongue

Dinosaur reconstructions in museums and theme parks often the animals with their tongues wild swing — a feature that is now thought to be incorrect. Credit: Spencer Wright

T. rex may have been a highly successful predator, but it would be very on licking stamps, lollipops or popsicles, thanks to a tongue that was probably stuck on the bottom of the mouth.

A new study raises the question of artists’ versions of T. rex and other dinosaurs show that they with their tongue sticking out of gaping jaws — a pose that is often seen in modern lizards. But while lizards are buds on the tongue wave, the dinosaurs probably could not stick out their tongue, researchers recently discovered.

Soft tissue is rarely preserved in the fossil record, so scientists turned their attention on a structure called the hyoid — a group of bones that supports and forms the tongue. She looked hyoids in dinosaurs and their closest living relatives, birds and crocodilians, to see if they could lick the problem of the tongue-wagging opportunities in the extinct dinosaurs.

On the basis of similarities found between dinosaur and crocodilian hyoid bones, the researchers found that the dinosaurs’ tongues were probably like those of alligators and crocodiles — to be firmly attached to the floor of the mouth. [Image Gallery: The Life of T. Rex]

“This is an aspect of dinosaur anatomy, which people probably do not think about, but it is an important part of each organism’s lifestyle,” study co-author Julia Clarke, a professor of vertebrate paleontology the Jackson School of Geosciences at The University of Texas in Austin, told Science.

Images of dinosaurs with lizard-like languages, listening to early interpretations of the animals such as oversized lizards. This misunderstanding persists in the popular representations of dinosaurs today, although it has long been established that the dinosaurs’ closest living relatives are birds and crocodilians, Clarke explained.

Modern bird tongues are very diverse and can be very mobile, thanks to complex hyoids that multiple structures which may extend along the centerline of the tongue tip. Hummingbird tongues, for example, are flexible micropumps that are so long that they coil around the bird’s skull when retracted, like a tape measure.

However, most of the extinct dinosaurs have hyoid structures that are more similar to those of crocodilians — a simple pair of short rods. In alligators, crocodiles and their relatives, muscle and connective tissue unloading of the animals’ tongue along the entire length of the base of the tip. Hyoid similarities between dinosaurs and crocodilians suggest that their tongues seemed to each other, so that the dinosaurs were probably not able to of the tongue-stretching performance exhibited by birds, Clarke said.

The scientists there were similarities between birds’ hyoids and that in an unexpected group: have been. Like birds, pterosaurs can fly. But the group represents a different archosaur origin than the dinosaurs, and they are not relatives.

What could explain the resemblance between the hyoid bone structures in birds and pterosaurs? A possibility is that the two groups separately evolved more complex and mobile tongues as they took to the air, a better management of a new type of diet that is not available on the ground-residents, the researchers wrote in the study, published online today (20 June) in the journal PLOS ONE.

Meanwhile, the supposedly less-mobile tongues of dinosaurs could have served them well in feeding strategies such as those used by crocodilians — a “bite-and-swallow” approach — where tongues play a less active role to play and not manipulate the food much after it in their mouths, Clarke told Live Science.

Original article on Live Science.


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