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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Scientists have for the first time understood the sounds made by dinosaurs

Scientists have for the first time been able to guess what sounds were made by dinosaurs that lived tens of millions of years ago. For the first time, the larynx bones of an ancient reptile discovered showed that these sounds could sound like birds singing or cooing, according to the study. published in the journal Communications Biology.

One of the unsolved mysteries of dinosaur structure until now was the question of what sounds these ancient reptiles could make.

The closest relatives of dinosaurs, modern birds and reptiles, use different vocalization mechanisms. For example, extinct and modern crocodiles use the larynx to create sound. Birds, on the other hand, use a special vocal organ, the syrinx, located at the base of the trachea.

Scientists could not understand how and what sounds dinosaurs could make, because among the known remains of these animals it was not possible to find a preserved larynx. This was first done by Yunki Yoshida, a paleontologist from the Fukushima Prefectural Museum (Japan). Laryngeal bones have been found in the 84-72 Ma ankylosaur Pinacosaurus grangeri discovered in 2005 in Mongolia. This is a group of herbivorous dinosaurs covered with armor made of osteoderms, their fossils are usually found in the territory of ancient Laurasia – in North America and Eurasia.

Yoshida and his colleagues studied two parts of the dinosaur’s larynx that supported muscles involved in opening and remodeling the airways. Scientists have compared the proportions of these parts with the larynxes of dozens of living and extinct birds and reptiles long known to science, including crocodiles, turtles and geckos.

The part at the base of the ankylosaurus larynx was larger than that of other animals, which gave the dinosaur the ability to open its airways wide to produce loud sounds heard over great distances. The second part, made up of two long bones, allowed the trachea to change shape to create different sounds, making those sounds similar to modern birdsong, the authors explain. It’s hard to say exactly what sounds were made by specific types of dinosaurs, the scientists say, because even in modern birds of the same species, the range of sounds produced is very wide.

“They could probably chirp and coo,” Yoshida explained.

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