JUN 20, 2018 6:34 PM PDT

T. Rex Probably Couldn't Stick It's Tongue Out At You

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Humans, along with several other modern animals, can extend their tongue beyond their lips. People often associate this action with a taunting gesture, while many animals stick their tongues out to lick their lips.

But citing a paper published in the journal PLOS ONE this week by researchers from both the University of Texas at Austin and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the great Tyrannosaurus Rex probably couldn’t stick its tongue out at all.

See the tongue? Yeah... probably inaccurate, according to a new study.

Image Credit: Pixabay

Upon analyzing the hyoid bones from a host of different dinosaur fossils and in modern animals, it seemed more likely that the beast’s tongue was immobile and firmly planted into the floor of the mouth like what we observe in alligators today.

Image Credit: Li et al. 2018

"Tongues are often overlooked. But, they offer key insights into the lifestyles of extinct animals," explained study lead author Zhiheng Li.

Related: How hard could a T. Rex bite?

As you can probably imagine, the findings do a number on Hollywood’s depiction of T. Rex. The beast is often illustrated with sharp teeth and a long, protruding tongue; but it now seems this wouldn’t have been the case.

But the same couldn’t be said about every dinosaur. In fact, the researchers point out how many bird-like dinosaurs possess hyoid bone structures that are consistent with what we see in modern birds. The findings hint that flight-capable creatures may have developed feeding techniques involving increased tongue dexterity back in the day.

"If you can't use a hand to manipulate prey, the tongue may become much more important to manipulate food," Li added.

"That is one of the hypotheses that we put forward."

Related: T. Rex may not have been feathered after all

Another exception were plant-eating dinosaurs, which needed to chew their food before swallowing. Seemingly, a tongue with added mobile characteristics would have benefited these creatures more than those that swallowed large foodstuffs whole, but again, this is nothing more than a theory.

Given just how many kinds of dinosaurs existed on early planet Earth and the limited records researchers have at their disposal, it’s challenging to pin down an unconditional hypothesis about how tongue mobility may have evolved over time.

More research may unveil additional clues that link one kind of physical property to another. With a little luck, these clues could validate these theories or enlighten us to new ideas.

Source: National Geographic, Science Daily

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
AUG 07, 2020
Plants & Animals
Do Tasmanian Devils Hold the Key to Tumor Inhibition?
AUG 07, 2020
Do Tasmanian Devils Hold the Key to Tumor Inhibition?
Thanks to a historic cartoon character, Tasmanian devils are commonly regarded as cantankerous and ferocious creatures. ...
AUG 20, 2020
Health & Medicine
Studying the World's Deadliest Animal
AUG 20, 2020
Studying the World's Deadliest Animal
Imagine hundreds of mosquitoes feeding on your arm for the sake of research! This is one unique aspect fueling the work ...
SEP 14, 2020
Plants & Animals
Preserving the Avocado
SEP 14, 2020
Preserving the Avocado
Rest easy, chips-and-dip lovers, the world's guacamole supply has been secured for future generations.
SEP 17, 2020
Microbiology
Animals May Sense the Magnetic Field Because of Bacteria
SEP 17, 2020
Animals May Sense the Magnetic Field Because of Bacteria
Animals can sense magnetism, an ability called magnetoreception. Scientists have been trying to understand this sense, w ...
OCT 05, 2020
Plants & Animals
Bacteria Caused the Deaths of Hundreds of Elephants
OCT 05, 2020
Bacteria Caused the Deaths of Hundreds of Elephants
African elephants are a threatened species that are increasing in some areas but at risk in many others. There are proba ...
NOV 23, 2020
Earth & The Environment
Wildfires put 4,400 species at risk worldwide
NOV 23, 2020
Wildfires put 4,400 species at risk worldwide
An international collaboration between 27 researchers led by the University of Melbourne has concluded that over 4,400 s ...
Loading Comments...