On the News | Unmasking the Fearsome Face of a Tyrannosaur @ The New York Times

On the News @ The New York Times


Unmasking the Fearsome Face of a Tyrannosaur


An artist’s rendering of the newly discovered tyrannosaur Daspletosaurus horneri. Credit Dino Pulerà (@source)

“With its dagger teeth and formidable frame, the Tyrannosaurus rex was one of the most frightening beasts to ever terrorize the land. Yet despite all its fame, the dinosaur’s looks remain a bit of a mystery.

Now, after studying a well-preserved fossil of a newly discovered T. rex relative, paleontologists think they have revealed some important features of the predator’s fearsome face.

“We have unmasked tyrannosaurs,” said Thomas Carr, a paleontologist from Carthage College in Wisconsin, and lead author of a study published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports.

He and his team found that the dinosaur family had no lips and had faces covered with small patches of armored skin and large, flat scales more similar to crocodiles than to lizards. Behind their eyes on each side of the head there was a large horn that may have been covered in keratin, the material that makes a person’s fingernails and a bird’s beak. The team also discovered that tyrannosaur snouts and jaws were most likely laced with nerves that made their skin supersensitive, comparable to a human’s fingertips. The extra sensitivity may have aided the tyrannosaurs in hunting and could have helped shape the family into efficient killing machines.” (…) READ MORE