or T. Rex is the most iconic dinosaur in all of pop culture. This creature has been shown to be large in size and to be really aggressive or destructive, as in the case of movies Jurassic Park and Transformers respectively. However, the visual representation of this meat-eater in films is largely false. Now, paleontologists have shed light and showed us its realest features (so far), crafting the best-ever reconstruction of a tyrannosaur’s face, thanks to an exquisite 75-million-year-old fossil!
Such fossil belongs to one of its closest relative’s face, recently officially named as Daspletosaurus hornieri. Such name is in honor of paleontologist Jack Horner who was the first to describe this species. Thomas Carr, who led the team at Carthage College said, "The first skull of D. hornieri appeared in the literature in 1992. It's been 25 years before this dinosaur got a name."
They found that the skull, based from its bone texture, had diverse facial features. It included tough patches of protective skin, hard horn structures, and flat scales that closely resemble alligators and crocodiles. "Not only do tyrannosaurs have the fundamental flat scales, but they also have armor-like skin and horn on their heads. They have this variety of integumentary structures on their faces. That was a surprise," Carr said. Tyrannosaur faces may even have included an array of ISOs or integumentary sensory organs, which are highly sensitive.
"Tyrannosaurs, like crocodilians, [also] have many openings for the trigeminal nerve, which brings back tactile sensations from the snout back to the brain. The sheer number of these openings is very close, if not identical, to crocodilians, indicating a very similar sensitivity." This indicates that this dino’s snout may have been more sensitive to stimuli than human fingertips! And such may have been used to either catch prey or to kiss.
"We don't know if we're right," Carr cautioned about the findings. "We think we are. We think the skeletal evidence is compelling and convincing. But it remains to be tested by finding an exceptionally preserved tyrannosaur mummy with integument preserved on the head, face, and jaws."