Tyrannosaurus Rex Had Lips and : UofT Professor
Ask someone to describe a Tyrannosaurus Rex, and you’ll probably get something like a land-going shark with big head with lots of sharp teeth. That popular image of one of the best known dinosaurs is possibly wrong, according to a biology professor at the University of Toronto (Mississauga), for one thing, those teeth might have been covered by lips.
Robert Reisz, a biology professor at the University of Toronto who specializes in vertebrate paleontology says that while the image of giant teeth sticking out is popular in many depictions, including movies like Jurassic Park, and even museums, the T. Rex and his fellow theropods would not have teeth that stick out even when their mouths are closed. He does allow that it does make them look fierce and scarier, which is probably the filmmakers’ aim.
New research suggesting enamel on its teeth was probably kept moist by thin, scaly lips much like those of modern day lizards. “They look more ferocious that way but that’s probably not real…all the evidence right now points to the likelihood that they actually had their teeth covered by essentially scaly lips,” he said. “People have a hard time wrapping their mind around the idea of teeth that are in excess of 10-15 cm still being in the mouth,” Reisz said. “But it’s all a matter of some big-headed animals.” Reisz goes on to say that other theropods, like velociraptors and Albertosaurus, were land animals whose teeth had enamel, making it far more likely they had lips.
Other common misconceptions in the movies include theropods like Rex are shown in movies without feathers and “looking emaciated,” which he said is also incorrect. And that famous roar? Probably also far from accurate, considering the animals Jurasic Park’s special effects people mixed together for the sound of the T-Rex had no relation to any ancient lizards.
While filmmakers will continue to take liberties, it does have scientific implications for how they chewed and processed food if turns out that theropods did have lips, there would be , Caleb Brown, a paleontologist working at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta said in an interview. “In reconstructing what dinosaurs looked like, scientists rely on preserved anatomy – typically bones, but sometimes skin and feathers – and comparisons with modern animals, said Caleb. One of the biggest details still to be determine is the colours, not much is known yet. “You have to estimate somewhere. One of the big ones we don’t know about is colour. We’re getting some details about colour from feathered dinosaurs, but when we just have skin preserved we don’t know what colour they are.” says Brown. Doctor Reisz’s research was presented Friday at a conference of the Canadian Society of Vertebrate Paleontology conference, held at the UofT’s Mississauga campus.
Of course, none of this is going to stop filmmakers shooting scenes of Chris Pratt riding into battle against GMO dinosaurs with his pack of tame velociraptors, so filmgoers are probably not going to be bothered by a T-Rex without lips or lipstick.