Toronto, May 23 (IANS) Dinosaurs might not have been as ferocious looking as they are made out to be in popular culture as there is very little information available about their soft tissue, according to a Canadian palaeontologist, challenging the idea that therapods such as the Tyrannosaurus Rex had deadly looks.
According to the researchers, they may not have had big, pouty lips but these dinosaurs had thin, scaly lips.
“When we see dinosaurs in popular culture, such as in the movie ‘Jurassic Park’, we see them depicted with big teeth sticking out of their mouths,” said Robert Reisz from the University of Toronto.
“We have very little information about dinosaurs’ soft tissue,” he added.
For clues about how therapods might have appeared, Reisz looked to modern-day reptilian predators like crocodiles and monitor lizards.
Lipless crocodiles have exposed teeth, while monitor lizards conceal teeth behind scaly lips.
Lips help to protect teeth, in part by helping to enclose them in a moist environment where they won’t dry out, Reisz said.
Crocodiles, which spend their time submerged in water, don’t need lips for protection. “Their teeth are kept hydrated by an aquatic environment,” he said.
Reptiles with lips, such as monitor lizards, typically live on land where their teeth require different protection. From this, the researcher concluded that dinosaur teeth would likely have been covered by scaly lips.
“It’s also important to remember that teeth would have been partially covered by gums. If we look at where the enamel stops, we can see that a substantial portion of the teeth would be hidden in the gums. The teeth would have appeared much smaller on a living animal,” Reisz said.
He presented the findings at the annual meeting of the Canadian Society of Vertebrate Palaeontolgy at the University of Toronto-Mississauga recently.