The Tyrannosaurus Rex has long been seen as the ultimate tough guy of the dinosaur kingdom, but scientists have found the predators may have been into snuggling. Wait…what?
It’s true. The T. Rex has been declared “a sensitive lover.” Hard to imagine the 20-foot tall, menacing creature was actually a love bug. But new research just published in Scientific Reports suggests that behind all those massive teeth, the T. Rex had a snout thats as reactive to touch as a human fingertip.
Scientists now think that the T. Rex (and others in that same family) had heads covered in large scales, but with sections of tough, armor-like skin around their mouths.
According to the new research, this hard tissue had many tiny nerve openings, called foramina. Those housed branches of the trigeminal nerve, which essentially allowed the dinos’ faces to feel things in the same detailed way a hand would.
This discovery was the result of scientists unearthing of a new type of tyrannosaurid dino in Montana last year. The Daspletosaurus horneri lived earlier and was much smaller than its more famous cousin, but the fossilized skulls gave an unusually good look at the structure of their ferocious faces.
Such touch-sensitive snouts clearly would have helped the beasts navigate their environments more carefully, but researchers also believe they served a more romantic purpose. It’s thought that the gigantic animals rubbed their faces together while mating, and that this interaction might have been “a vital part of pre-copulatory play.”
Awww. Dinosaur foreplay involved cuddling. Suddenly the T. Rex seems a lot less terrifying.
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