Was T. Rex's Vision Really Based On Movement?

Dustin Wicksell

It's a question that has plagued moviegoers since Jurassic Park was released in 1993: Could a T. Rex really only see you if you moved? Thanks to researchers at the University of Oregon, that question may finally be answered.

Professor Kent Stevens has been working on a project called DinoMorph, modeling therapod dinosaurs like the velociraptor and the T. Rex, ever since the year that Michael Chricton's story hit screens worldwide. The project focused on modeling and visualizing the prehistoric predators, according to IFLScience, but along the way he managed to map the visual acuity of various dinosaurs, including the T. Rex.

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Stevens was able to determine that T. Rex's binocular range was 55 degrees, which is greater than a hawk, which is known for its high visual acuity. T. Rex had front-facing eyes, set into the sides of a narrow skull, which allowed for an overlap in its visual field, leading to the conclusion that T. Rex had definite depth perception.

As Gizmodo points out, scientists have also recently discovered that over time, T. Rex's snout gradually evolved to be longer and more pronounced, which allowed its cheekbones to dip inward and its eyes to grow larger. Stevens asserts that T. Rex, in a best-case scenario, could have visual acuity up to 13 times sharper than modern humans. T. Rex's vision would allow objects up to six kilometers away to remain in focus, a distance that equates to 1.6 kilometers for humans. "With the size of its eyeballs," Stevens said, the T. Rex "couldn't help but have excellent vision."

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While T. Rex may have possessed excellent vision, it was likely a secondary concern next to its sense of smell. The Jurassic park cast most likely would have been prey anyway, according to Stevens, who said that "If you're sweating in fear one inch from the nostrils of the T. Rex, it would figure out you were there anyway."

[Image via DeviantArt and Discovery News]