A mouth of giant bone-cracking teeth can be the scary thing about a dinosaur. But there is something about the image of a wet, waggling Tyrannosaurus tongue that is particularly disturbing. To our help, researchers have discovered that most dinosaur tongues – including the powerful T. rex – can not awaken much.
In a new study, researchers compared fossil hyoid bone – a horseshoe-shaped leg that anchors the tongue and supports the opening of your lungs – with crocodiles and birds, the closest living relatives to dinosaurs. The study led to some unexpected results, mainly the fact that most images of dinosaurs in popular culture are incorrect. For some reason (perhaps because Tyrannosaurus is translated into "Tyrant lizard" in Greek) many drawings show dinosaurs with long wilderness-like tongues. But this new survey shows that most actually had tongues that resemble crocodiles, flat and rotated to the bottom of the mouth.
"The surprising part we found was that most dinosauroid bone is quite boring," said Julia Clarke, a paleontologist and co-author of the study published this week in PLOS One . "The proof really argues for simple, limited heavy movement in most dinosaurs."
But why think of a smooth fleshy body if we do not need? What's so good about a tongue, anyway? Without a tongue we could not chew, speak or swallow. Frogs trust their tongues to crumble in the air. Okapi, also known as a sebra raffle, uses its 1
And according to Clarkes research, there are many more stories that an old tongue can tell, like the origin of the flight. Unlike the stubborn, simple hyoid bone seen in dinosaurs like T. rex researchers found a much more complex structure in pterosaurs-bird-like dinosaurs or "winged lizards".
The waterfall in The Lost World: Jurassic Park shows that Julianne Moore is slipped by a T. rex fast until 2:30). We now know that such a fool would not have been possible.
"We wanted to know when this crazy development of bones began to occur," says Clarke. "Only after the flight's arrival [in vertebrates] you get these olympics from the movement of the legmone."
If tongues did not cry you before, they probably come now. Yes, the innocent looking tongue in a happy chirping bird has a leg in it. Today's birds in the hyoid bone extend all the way from the back of the throat to the tip of the tongue. It's this flexible leg that allows birds to keep their tongues all the way out (and maybe even a bit longer). Hummingbirds have hyoids that are so long, it actually sits around the skull and rests in the birds (aka bird nuts). When released, a bunny's bony tongue can be extended twice as long as its count.
With the same structure in the pterosaurs, researchers say it is likely that bony heavy and flight development are linked. When arms developed into wings, flying dinosaurs lost the ability to speed up the change. Clarke says that these advanced tongues could have served as a new way of getting food, a trait that is also seen in today's birds.
A T. rex tongue is definitely not comparable to our own puny pink bags, but it is similar in its construction made of bone but thick tissue and muscle. Because his hyoid bone is generally two short rods that sit back in the throat, the tongue was moistened at the bottom of the mouth, making it impossible to infect it freely like a bird's flexible bony tongue.
There was an odd study, Clarke could not explain. Armored dinosaurs – like a stegosaurus or ankylosaurus – also had complex hyoids, although they were very different animals than winged dinosaurs. Clarke says she is also unsure what purpose the rotten tongue of a T. rex would have earned, but based on observations of crocodiles – similar to a single hyoid bone – it had something to do with food. A flat tongue certainly feels a crocodile that swallows roughly all. A long, straight tongue would probably disturb it. Or maybe the tongue was always thought to be a landing strip for the bright blue birds who chose leftovers of meat from Crocs teeth. However, tongues can tell us much more than we thought.