JUN 20, 2018 06:34 PM PDT

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

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 26, 2018
Plants & Animals
AUG 26, 2018
These Are the Most Extreme Babies in the Animal Kingdom
Think you had it hard as a baby? Ha! Think again. Human babies have it easy compared to some of the animal kingdom’s most extreme. Barnacle goose hat...
SEP 04, 2018
Plants & Animals
SEP 04, 2018
Can We Streamline the Head-Starting Process for Georgia's Gopher Tortoises?
In the world of animal conservation, head-starting is a technique used by experts to prevent threatened species from inching closer to extinction. This pro...
SEP 28, 2018
Genetics & Genomics
SEP 28, 2018
How Genes Changed in Domesticated Foxes
Over fifty years ago, scientists in Russia began to selectively breed silver foxes to replicate domestication....
OCT 01, 2018
Plants & Animals
OCT 01, 2018
First Lion Cubs Born Via Artificial Insemination Prove Healthy
At first glance, these two South African lion cubs probably look exactly like any other pair of South African lion cubs would; however, looks can be deceiv...
OCT 09, 2018
Plants & Animals
OCT 09, 2018
Study Suggests Courteous Chimps Live Longer Lives
There are two kinds of chimpanzees in this world: 1) those that act aggressive toward others to assert their dominance over the rest of the troop, and 2) t...
OCT 23, 2018
Earth & The Environment
OCT 23, 2018
Can the Hambach forest be saved?
The Hambach Forest is nestled in the Rhineland of western Germany, not too far from the city of Cologne. At 12,000 years old, it is the oldest old-growth f...
Loading Comments...