Small arms, tongue-tied: T-Rex couldn’t stick its tongue out

Major flaw in 'Jurassic World' movies unveiled

Dinosaurs are often shown baring teeth with tongues stretched out wildly, but as it turns out, it's not an accurate depiction.

When Li and his colleagues at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the University of Texas compared the hyoid bones of dinosaurs with those of alligators, crocodiles, pterosaurs and modern birds, they found dinosaurs' hyoid bones were most similar to the hyoid bones of alligators and crocodiles.

The researchers came to this conclusion by examining hyoid bones - horseshoe-shaped bones which serve as anchor points for the tongue in many animals - in prehistoric fossils such as pterosaurs and other predators, and comparing the data to the hyoid bones and muscles in more modern fauna.

Lead researcher Dr Zhiheng Li, who carried out the work at the University of Texas Jackson School of Geoscience in the United States, said: "Tongues are often overlooked". But, they offer key insights into the lifestyles of extinct animals, ' said Dr Li. He conducted the work while earning his Ph.D.at the UT Jackson School of Geosciences.

Despite animations and illustrations suggesting otherwise, dinosaurs couldn't stick out their tongues.

"They've been reconstructed the wrong way for a long time", she said. The bones looked pretty simple and short, meaning the tongue attached to them couldn't move too much.

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.

In contrast, pterosaurs, bird-like dinosaurs, and living birds were found to have a wide range of hyoid bone shapes.

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A new study calls into question artists' renditions of T. rex and other dinosaurs that show them with their tongues protruding from gaping jaws - a pose that is commonly seen in modern lizards.

The study was published on June 20 in the journal PLoS ONE. They carefully viewed high-resolution images of the hyoid bone within these animals.

This greater diversity of shapes could be linked to the ability to fly, they say, because taking to the skies may have led to new feeding behaviors that influenced how tongues evolved. This way, researchers can find out where the evolutionary chain was separated.

"Birds, in general, elaborate their tongue structure in remarkable ways", Clarke said.

This may be related to sacrificing hands for flight.

The researchers suggest that when dinosaurs traded their hands for wings, tongues became more important for manipulating their meals. "In most extinct dinosaurs their tongue bones are very short". "We take birds for granted, but they have insane tongues", Julia Clarke, a paleontologist at Austin and one of the authors of the study, tells Davis. Plant-eaters like Triceratops and the ankylosaurs, which had to chew their food, also had complex hyoid bones. But researchers said Wednesday this would have been anatomically impossible.

To determine the tongues of dinosaurs, scientists examined the fossil record.

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