You have seen it in the Jurrasic Park movies. You recall its skeletal structure from the museum. The Tyrannosaurus Rex can be called the Michael Jackson of the dinosaur world. You may not know much about the other kinds of dinosaurs, but the T. Rex must have fascinated you since you were a kid. And now, scientists have found out something about the Tyrannosaurus Rex that makes them even cooler. According to a study conducted by scientists from Ohio University, the University of Florida and the University of Missouri, the Tyrannosaurus Rex may have had a natural air conditioner present in their head.
Surprised? Well, that brain of one of the largest meat-eating dinosaurs needs to be cooled, right? Scientists had already discovered the two big holes present in the roof of a Tyrannosaurus Rex’s skull. They named it dorsotemporal fenestra. It was believed that these two holes were lined with muscles which would help in the jaw movements of this large animal.
However, Casey Holliday, a professor of anatomy in the MU School of Medicine, did not subscribe to this belief. It needed to be further examined.
According to Casey, it always seemed strange that a muscle would go from the jaw and along the skull roof, making a 90-degree angle. But then, it’s impossible to examine the Tyrannosaurus Rex anymore and find out what might be the role played by those two holes.
Image Credit: © stockdevil / Adobe Stock
However, we do have the descendants of those great reptiles!
Casey started examining alligators – they had two similar holes in the roof of their skulls. Thermal imaging was used for this purpose. Thermal imaging devices are devices which transform heat into a form of visible light, making it easier to examine. Kent Vliet, a coordinator of laboratories at the University of Florida’s Department of Biology mentioned that the heat of an alligator’s body depended on the environment it is in. So, during the thermal imaging process, the holes in the skull of the alligator started to light up. When the surroundings are cool, the holes show big hot spots indicating that the alligator is trying to warm itself up. On the other hand, when it is warm, the holes appear dark, indicating a lack of activity. It is as if they are switched off to keep the alligator cool. This fascinating mechanism is supported by previous evidence which suggests that alligators have a working cross-current circulatory system – a kind of a thermostat.
When this result was matched with the Tyrannosaurus Rex’s skeleton, it was clear the Tyrannosaurus Rex may have this kind of air conditioner in its skull too. The holes were actually lined with blood vessels, according to Larry Witmer, the professor of anatomy at the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine at Ohio University. He mentions that our previous assumption of putting muscles in those holes was wrong. We should take the help of animals in our ecosystem, the descendants of those great animals, to fill up the gaps in our knowledge.
Well, it does not cease to surprise us. The very thought of a Tyrannosaurus Rex having an air conditioner in their head can really astonish many people!
Image Credit: Carlos Tischler/Shutterstock
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