What Did Researchers Discover About Dinosaurs And Tongues?
A new study suggests that most dinosaurs, such as the Tyrannosaurus rex, were unable to stick their tongues out. Instead, the tongues were likely stuck to the bottom of their mouths.
The study was published on June 20 in the journal PLoS ONE.
Palaeontologist Julia Clarke of the University of Texas at Austin teamed up with scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences for this study. The researchers found that many dinosaurs, particularly those that ate meat, could not stick their tongues out.
Although birds evolved from dinosaurs, and birds can wiggle their tongues, dinosaurs had tongues similar to alligators. Those dinosaurs that ate mostly meat hardly did chewing, so the tongue was not a requirement.
"Tongues are often overlooked. But, they offer key insights into the lifestyles of extinct animals," said lead author Zhiheng Li.
Stephen Brusatte, a palaeontologist at the University of Edinburgh who was not part of the study, said that the researchers made a great observation about tongues. He confirmed that meat-eating dinosaurs likely had the basic tongues that stayed in their mouths. Based on the study, it is also easy to infer that the Tyrannosaurus rex could not wag its tongue. This research changes what many people thought about these creatures.
How Did Researchers Learn That Dinosaurs Tongues Were So Different?
To determine the tongues of dinosaurs, scientists examined the fossil record. They specifically looked at the hyoid, which is the bone in the neck that supports the tongue. The fossils were found in northeastern China.
Scientists compared the hyoid fossils of flying reptiles with CT scans of living animals today, specifically alligators, ducks, and birds. They carefully viewed high-resolution images of the hyoid bone within these animals.
Future Implications From This Study On Tongues
Although researchers admit that there need to be more fossils examined, the study could shed some light on the importance of tongue development. The change in the tongue from dinosaurs to birds could also be connected to mobility changes with birds' growing wings.
"We take birds for granted, but they have crazy tongues," said Clarke.
This study could be used to expand our understanding of the evolution of birds. We could gain some knowledge about how birds use their tongues for food and to create sound.