Did Tyrannosaurus rex have lips hiding those ferocious teeth? At least one University of Toronto paleontologist thinks so. Robert Reisz says that some new research may indicate that the true outward appearance of the Tyrannosaurus rex might not match what we commonly believe it to be. The new findings, being presented this week at a conference at the University of Toronto Mississauga, are already making headlines.
According to Reisz’s research, modern scientists actually have very little information about dinosaur’s soft tissue. This means that while Tyrannosaurus rex is commonly depicted as having a toothy, crocodile-like grin, it’s very likely that the Tyrannosaurus could have had scaly lips instead, similar to those depicted by the velociraptors in such films as Jurassic Park.
That the researcher uncovered could have lasting repercussions when it comes to modern depictions of the Tyrannosaurus rex’s lips (or lack thereof) both in film and scientific instances.
When investigating modern reptiles for clues as to the outward appearance of Tyrannosaurus rex, the paleontologist discovered something interesting. When it comes to modern-day reptilian predators, the appearance of lips seems to have more to do with their environment than anything else. Lips exist, in part, to help teeth stay moist and keep them from drying out. That’s why aquatic reptiles, such as crocodiles, don’t have lips but their land-loving relatives, like monitor lizards, do.
“It’s also important to remember that teeth would have been partially covered by gums. If we look at where the enamel stops, we can see that a substantial portion of the teeth would be hidden in the gums. The teeth would have appeared much smaller on a living animal.”
The researcher says that the modern perception of dinosaurs, such as Tyrannosaurus rex, being ferocious-looking may not be accurate at all.
Reisz’s research was presented at the yearly meeting of the Canadian Society of Vertebrate Palaeontolgy at UTM. The conference is a two-day event that involves 60 Canadian scientists and researchers working both in the country and abroad.
In addition to presenting his new research regarding Tyrannosaurus rex, Reisz also helped to organize the annual conference of Canadian researchers. When addressing the media, he spoke of Canada’s advantage when it comes to studying Tyrannosaurus rex, dinosaurs in general and vertebrate evolution.
“Canada has some very significant locations for understanding vertebrate evolution, ranging from the late Cretaceous in Alberta to the Pleistocene in the Arctic and the early stages of terrestrial vertebrate evolution in the Atlantic region.”
The Canadian paleontologist went on to say that there are roughly 1,000 scientists and researchers the world over that study vertebrate fossils, including Tyrannosaurus rex. He said that it is “important to come together and exchange ideas.”
What do you think? Is Robert Reisz on to something? Do you prefer the idea of a lip-less T-rex, or do you believe that it’s more likely that the Tyrannosaurus rex sported lips like a monitor lizard?
[Image Courtesy Of Herschel Hoffmeyer/Shutterstock]