'Sixth Sense' May Have Helped Tyrannosaur Dinosaurs To Hunt Their Prey
The Tyrannosaurus rex is a fearsome dinosaur during prehistoric times. Now, a new dinosaur discovery suggests that the T-rex and other tyrannosaurs may have faces covered with highly sensitive scales that gave them the ability to detect the slightest changes such as the presence of a prey attempting to avoid detection.
T-Rex Relative Daspletosaurus Horneri
A newly discovered species of the tyrannosaur was found to have remarkably sensitive face. The carnivore Daspletosaurus horneri, or Horner's frightful lizard, would have stood more than 6 feet in height and measured about 29 feet long.
Fossil remains belonging to the Daspletosaurus horneri were found in Montana, where these dinosaurs are believed to have lived about 75 million years ago.
Sensitive Snout Covered With Scales
Markings on the fossilized remains of adults and juveniles of the species revealed that the creature had snout covered with scales that can sense temperature and pressure.
In a study, which was published in the journal Scientific Reports on March 30, researchers said that the sensitive facial scales of the creature may have aided its efficiency at hunting and killing prey.
Researchers get an idea what prehistoric creatures would have looked like by looking at their skulls and skeletons. Bones, however, can only get researchers so far when reconstructing the appearance.
In the case of the newly discovered dinosaur, the soft tissues were not preserved by fossilization so paleontologists teamed up with researchers who study the anatomy of modern day relatives of dinosaur to know what these unpreserved tissues may have looked like.
Bird, known as the living dinosaurs, and crocodilian species offered hints on the facial structure of the tyrannosaur.
The dinosaur's skull was marked by by many holes so researchers think that the tyrannosaur had many nerves and blood vessels that pass through to the soft tissues that surround it. The feature is comparable to those seen in crocodiles and alligators today. The animals have thousands of sensitive bumps known as integumentary sensory organs around their jaws.
Rich supply of blood and nerves to the tissues known as trigemina nerves likewise hint that the facial skin and scales of the dinosaur were very sensitive which may have helped them identify objects.
"Given that the foramina are identical in tyrannosaurs, [that] indicates that they had super-sensitive skin as well," said study researcher Thomas Carr, from Carthage College in Wisconsin.
Trigeminal nerve has a sensory role in many animals that enable their special "sixth sense," which gives animals special abilities such as the capacity to sense touch and vibrations in water among crocodiles that allow these creatures to sense their prey, detect magnetic fields among birds to help with migration, and electroreception, or the biological ability to perceive natural electrical stimuli, among marine animals that is used to help detect objects and communication.
"Given that the sensitive snout is so highly integrated into the day-to-day life of alligators and other crocodylians, there is every reason to suspect the same for tyrannosaurs since they were outfitted with the same equipment," Carr said.