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Dinosaurs May Have Had Lips

When you think of Tyrannosaurus Rex, you think of a mean dinosaur baring his teeth at his predators. However, this may not be the case, according to paleontologist Robert Reisz from the University of Toronto. His research was presented at the University of Toronto Mississauga.

According to the research, this dinosaur likely had lips covering up his teeth. And it isn’t just the T-Rex but other Theropods may have had lips too. The study, presented at the conference at the Canadian Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, shows these Theropods would not have had teeth that stuck out with closed mouths like they are depicted these days.

The lips may have protected their teeth.

Image credit: Wikipedia

Reisz says that boars and elephants may have exposed teeth but they are made of dentyne, not enamel. However, the record of the specimen shows that the Theropods were made of both enamel and dentyne  and had lips to cover these teeth.

According to The Christian Science Monitor crocodiles have exposed teeth and no lips. They are similar to what everyone thinks the dinosaur looked like. The research suggests that the other reptiles that Reisz looked at and monitor lizards actually have lips that hide their teeth. This is about the same as how the media today portrays what the Velociraptor looked like.

Apparently, the lips on dinosaurs protected their teeth from moisture so they didn’t dry out. Lizards like the Monitor Lizards need their lips because they live on dry land and the dry air will dry their teeth out. On the other hand, crocodiles don’t need lips because they live in water.

This Monitor Lizard has lips because it lives on dry land and the lips keep the teeth from going dry.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Reisz says the comparison between the crocodile and the dinosaur and the monitor lizards is flawed.

But it makes sense if you think about it because he then compared the Monitor Lizard to the T-Rex and came to the conclusion that the land walking dinosaur would have had lips too to keep teeth from drying out from the dry air.

He also had this to say,

It is also important to remember that teeth would have been partially covered by gums. If we look at where the enamel stops, we can see that a substantial portion of the teeth would be hidden in the gums.

Reisz also stated that on a living animal, the teeth would appear smaller.

His theory was tested with colleague Derek Larson. They analyzed elephant tusks and found they don’t have enamel. They compared these tusks to theropod dinosaur’s teeth, which have well-preserved enamel and found that the teeth were not exposed but covered up by lips.

Reisz says this is ongoing research. He has been comparing living animal teeth and the dinosaur teeth for years now. His research was presented on May 20 at the Canadian Society of Vertebrate Paleontology at the University of Toronto in Mississauga.

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