Tyrannosaurus rex

Tyrannosaurus Rex’s little arms may have been used for ‘vicious slashing’, scientist claims

The Tyrannosaurus Rex was one of the scariest killers in the history of Planet Earth. But its fearsome image was undermined a little by the ridiculousness of its puny arms, which were among the smallest of all dinosaurs when considered proportionally against the size of its body. Now one scientist has claimed the tiny arms were actually “vicious weapons” equipped with four-inch claws which would have allowed it to eviscerate its unfortunate prey. Steven Stanley, a palaeontologist working at the University of Hawaii, gave a presentation to The Geological Society of America last week in which he claimed nature equipped the monster with “formidable weaponry”. The research flies in the face of previous suggestions that the T-Rex was a lover as well as a fighter, which used its little arms to clasp its partner close during sex. “Its short, strong forelimbs and large claws would have permitted T-Rex, whether mounted on a victim’s back or grasping it with its jaws, to inflict four gashes a metre or more long and several centimetres deep within a few seconds,” said Stanley, according to New Scientist. “And it could have repeated this multiple times in rapid succession.” Other scientists have cast doubt on these claims, with Jakob Vinther, a paleobiologist from the University of Bristol, suggesting Stanley’s argument was “illogical”. The T-Rex’s stubby extremities were just three feet long, meaning it would have needed to get extremely close to its victims if it wanted to rend them limb from limb. And the arms really were used for lovemaking, the claws would hardly have made the encounter very comfortable. Previous research suggested the T-Rex was more of a sensitive lover than you might think. The terrifying meat-eater, which stood 20 feet tall and had jaws bristling with serrated teeth up to nine inches long, was believed to have had a snout as sensitive to touch as human fingertips. A team of researchers suggested two rexy beasts would rub their noses together during foreplay, before getting down to the monstrous act of physical love.

..and I think I need therapy to get that visual out of my head.  No..  I’m inclined to think that Mr. Stanley is on to something.  But, who knows?  Me may never truly learn..

One tough bite: T. rex’s teeth had secret weapon

Secret structures hidden within the serrated teeth of Tyrannosaurus rex and other theropods helped the fearsome dinosaurs tear apart their prey without chipping their pearly whites, a new study finds. Researchers looked at the teeth of theropods — a group of bipedal, largely carnivorous dinosaurs that includes T. rex and Velociraptor — to study the mysterious structures that looked like cracks within each tooth. The investigation showed that these structures weren’t cracks at all, but deep folds within the tooth that strengthened each individual serration and helped prevent breakage when the dinosaur pierced through its prey, said study lead researcher Kirstin Brink, a postdoctoral researcher of biology at the University of Toronto Mississauga. The new study upends one from the early 1990s, Brink said. Researchers first noticed these cryptic cracks on the tooth of a T. rex cousin named Albertosaurus about two decades ago. Initially, the researchers thought the cracks were signs of damage, likely acquired when the dinosaur ate a hearty meal. But the new analysis finds that isn’t the case, Brink said. “I sectioned teeth from eight other theropods besides Albertosaurus, and found that the structure is actually in all theropods, and it’s not actually a crack,” she told Live Science. The study actually began with a Dimetrodon, a Paleozoic animal with serrated teeth that lived before the time of the dinosaurs. When Brink sliced the Dimetrodon tooth in half and compared it with the serrated teeth of dinosaurs, she found they had different internal structures. “They look very similar on the outside,” Brink said. “It’s only when you cut them open [that you see] that they’re completely different.” Curious, she obtained two to three teeth from eight different theropods species, including T. rex, Coelophysis bauri and Carcharodontosaurus saharicus. She also looked at specimens of theropod teeth that had not yet fully matured and erupted past the gum line, meaning, “they had not been used for feeding,” Brink said. An analysis using a scanning electron microscope and a synchrotron (a microscope that helps determine the chemical composition of a substance) showed that each tooth, even the ones that had not yet erupted, had these cracklike structures next to each serration, she said. This debunked the idea that the cracks were artifacts of eating a meaty meal, she said. Furthermore, each structure has a few extra layers of calcified tissue, called dentine, under the tooth’s outer enamel coating, making it tough and hard. “We proposed a developmental hypothesis that these are structures created when the tooth is first forming,” Brink said. “It actually helps to deepen the serration within the tooth and strengthen each serration and the tooth overall.” Serrated teeth help animals pierce through flesh and hold onto chunks of meat. The formations, which the researchers call “deep interdental folds,” strengthen the serrations. In fact, they likely helped theropods survive as top predators for about 165 million years, Brink said. Serrated teeth still exist today in Komodo dragons. However, Komodo dragon teeth don’t have deep interdental folds, nor do they have the extra layers of dentine that would strengthen their bite, Brink added. She called the toothy finding fascinating and “unexpected.”

Fascinating, indeed!! 🙂