Scientist unravels secret of T.rex's fearsome snarl
Washington: The most fearsome feature of any T. rex's full-sized model is its array of massive flesh-ripping, bone-crushing teeth. But scientists have now discovered that beyond the obvious size difference in each tooth family in T.rex's gaping jaw, there is considerable variation in the serrated edges of the teeth.
"The varying edges, or keels, not only enabled T.rex's very strong teeth to cut through flesh and bone, the placement and angle of the teeth also directed food into its mouth," said Miriam Reichel, paleontologist at University of Alberta.
Reichel analyzed the teeth of the entire tyrannosaurid family and found T.rex had the greatest variation in tooth structure, the Canadian Journal of Earth Science reported.
The dental specialization was a great benefit for a dinosaur whose preoccupation was ripping other dinosaurs apart, according to a university statement.
Reichel's research shows that the T.rex's front teeth gripped and pulled, while the teeth along the side of the jaw punctured and tore flesh. The teeth at the back of the mouth did double duty: not only could they slice and dice chunks of prey, they forced food to the back of the throat.
Reichel says her findings add strength to the classification of tyrannosaurids as heterodont animals, which are animals with teeth adapted for different functions depending on their position in the mouth.
One surprising aspect of T.rex teeth, common to all tyrannosaurid's, is that they weren't sharp and dagger-like. "They were fairly dull and wide, almost like bananas," said Reichel.
"If the teeth were flat, knife-like and sharp, they could have snapped if the prey struggled violently when T.rex's jaws first clamped down," Reichel concluded.