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T. rex may have had lips like a modern lizard’s

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In movies and TV shows, Tyrannosaurus rex often sports a fleet of big, sharp teeth that are almost always on display. But the dinosaurs and their kin may have kept their pearly whites mostly tucked behind lizardlike lips.

Similar to Komodo dragons today, these dinosaurs had ample soft tissue around the mouth that would have functioned as lips, an analysis of fossilized and modern reptile skulls and teeth finds. The research, described in the March 31 Science, challenges common, traditional reconstructions of how these top predators appeared in life.

“This is a nice, concise answer to a question that has been asked for a long time by dinosaur paleontologists,” says Emily Lessner, a vertebrate paleontologist at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, who wasn’t involved in the study. 

Soft tissue is not often included in analyses of the biomechanics of feeding dinosaurs, she says. Acknowledging the potential presence of lips in these tests could change how we think some dinosaurs ate.

It’s “not an unfair argument” to suggest that nonavian…

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