Dinosaurs went extinct 66 million years ago. Fossils can also tell a bit about the sounds they made. How did the T-Rex call?

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With the “Parasaurolophus”, for example, one can imagine the generation of the tones a bit like that of a trombone. It lived in North America around 77-74 million years ago and had a long tail and neck.

The animal’s most spectacular feature was its bony horn, according to paleontologist Darius Nau of the University of Bonn. This protruded from the back of the head, was hollow and could be up to a meter long. In the head it was connected to the nasal passages and therefore when the Parasaurolophus breathed air passed through the horn.

The bony horn was hollow and connected to Parasaurolophus’ nasal passages, so air passed through the horn when it breathed.

picture alliance / imageBROKER | Martin Moxter

Parasaurolophus sounded similar to a trumpet

A trombone also has a long tube through which air flows. Therefore, some scientists believe: The Parasaurolophus may have sounded like a trumpet.

Musician with trombone (Photo: IMAGO, IMAGO / Sven Thielmann)

The structure of a trombone is somewhat similar to the bony horn of Parasaurolophus, which is why scientists assume that it may have sounded similar.

IMAGO / Sven Thielmann

What noises did the other dinosaurs make?

For other dinosaurs that didn’t have trumpet heads, it’s harder to figure out what sounds they made. Then you have to rely on the relatives living today. These are birds on the one hand and crocodiles on the other.

Strictly speaking, birds are dinosaurs. And crocodiles are the sister group of dinosaurs – they share a common ancestor with them.
Researchers like Darius Nau therefore assume that the dinosaurs are in between – i.e. they resembled birds in some characteristics and more like crocodiles in others.

Illustration of different dinosaurs (Photo: picture-alliance / Reportdienste, picture alliance / Mary Evans Picture Library )

The living relatives of dinosaurs are birds on the one hand and crocodiles on the other.

picture alliance / Mary Evans Picture Library

So maybe the hunter Tyrannosaurus Rex chirped?

Probably not, because birds have a very special organ, the so-called vocal head or syrinx, and the other dinosaurs didn’t have such an organ. But it would be possible, for example, that the Tyrannosaurus Rex cooed – similar to how pigeons do it. Deeper, of course, because he was taller. It would also be possible that he barked like a crocodile. One can only guess.

Sounds of dinosaurs in movie “Jurassic Park” almost certainly wrong

Experts are only pretty sure about one thing: they most likely didn’t make the kind of sounds dinosaurs make in films, e.g. in “Jurassic Park”.

This is perhaps one of the things that excites you as a paleontologist or as a biologist in general.

In the film, a Tyrannosaurus Rex bursts out of the bushes in search of prey and lets out a terrifying roar. According to experts, he most likely did not make this noise.

Darius Nau reports that the T-Rex in Jurassic Park combined elephant and lion sounds. From a biological point of view, this doesn’t necessarily make sense, since neither elephants nor lions are related to the T-Rex in any way, and they also have structures that the T-Rex didn’t have at all, for example vocal cords or a trunk.

Paleontologist Darius Nau explains that a modern-day carnivore would also never roar or make other loud noises when trying to sneak up on its prey.

He would never scare his prey away as a precaution before hunting it.

The noises that dinosaurs make in the film have nothing to do with the real sound of the dinosaurs of that time.

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J. A. Allen

Author, blogger, freelance writer. Hater of spiders. Drinker of wine. Mother of hellions.

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