The aptly named Tyrannosaurus Rex used to terrorise the earth at the end of Cretaceous period. With large razor-like teeth and huge clawed feet, it would rip its prey to shreds within moments. At 6 metres tall the carnivore was the most fearsome dinosaur to ever walk the earth. But according to scientists, these terrifying beasts had a softer side too.
The skin on their huge snout was as sensitive as the tip of a finger according to new research. This soft spot on the nose was used to explore new environments, build nests and move fragile eggs and babies.
But even more intriguing is its sexual use. Experts believe that the T-Rex used their sensitive snout as a sort of dino-foreplay.
“In courtship, T-Rex’s might have rubbed their sensitive faces together as a vital part of pre-copulatory play,” explains the US authors of Scientific Reports.
This information comes via the discovery of a different Dinosaur, the closely related: Daspletosaurus horneri in Montana, US. The new dinosaur lived 74m years before the T-Rex and was three-quarters of the size. Strangely well-preserved fossils of the skulls have yielded important information about T-Rex ‘s evolution and anatomy.
Scientists now believe that the T-Rex has a mask of large flat scales with areas of protective and tough armour-like skin around the snout and jaws. The hard surface of the snout skin was endowed with small nerve openings or formamina. It’s a similar situation for crocodiles and alligators whose jaws have thousands of tiny bumps called integumentary sensory organs. Alligators and crocodiles rub these areas profusely before mating for stimulation.
“Given that the foramina are identical in tyrannosaurs, [that] indicates that they had super-sensitive skin as well,” says Wisconsin college’s lead scientist; Dr Thomas Carr.
The trigeminal nerve plays a fantastic sensory role in birds, reptile and mammals.Though it's conjecture, it’s nice to know that even the most feared beast to walk the planet had a softer, sexier side.