Dinosaurs ‒ the word conjures up images of an ancient species like the plant-eating Diplodocus, or the terrifying Tyrannosaurus rex (T rex), or even the agile and cunning Velociraptor. These beasts once roamed the world when humans were not even a twinkle in Mother Nature’s eye. Dinosaurs were first classified in the 17th century, and as time has gone on, our understanding of the beasts has grown tenfold.
Megalosaurus was the first dinosaur ever to be described scientifically, discovered by William Buckland in 1819 at Kirkdale in Yorkshire — although ancient humans are likely to have come across countless dinosaur remains.
They are believed to have walked and swam across the planet’s oceans and lands 230 to 66 million years ago through three periods of time known as the Triassic, the Jurassic and the Cretaceous period.
While it is difficult to fully realise what dinosaurs would have looked like in real life, countless studies focused on the various skeletal discoveries have offered hidden secrets about the giants.
A recent study by Japanese researchers, for example, found that T rex Dinosaurs may have been able to pick out the most desirable parts of its freshly-killed prey to eat.
As reported by BBC Science Focus magazine, a team of researchers based at the Institute of Dinosaur Research in Fukui Prefectural University used computed tomography (CT) scanning techniques to reconstruct the complex structure of blood vessels and nerves found in the mandible of T rex Dinosaurs fossil originally unearthed in Hell Creek Formation, Montana.
By comparing their data to scans of other dinosaurs such as triceratops, along with scans of currently living birds and crocodiles, they were able to determine that T rex Dinosaurs had nerve sensors in the tip of its jaw.
This enabled the dinosaur to detect and select more easily the tastiest parts of its prey — a terrifying thought that it knew exactly what part of its game would be the best to snap at.
Dr Soichiro Kawabe, from the Institute of Dinosaur Research at Fukui Prefectural University, in Japan, told the publication: “T rex was an even more fearsome predator than previously believed.
“Our findings show the nerves in the mandible of Tyrannosaurus rex are more complexly distributed than those of any other dinosaurs studied to date, and comparable to those of modern-day crocodiles and tactile-foraging birds, which have extremely keen senses.
“What this means is that T rex Dinosaurs was sensitive to slight differences in material and movement.
“It indicates the possibility that it was able to recognise the different parts of their prey and eat them differently depending on the situation.”
The results of the study are akin to analyses of the skull of another tyrannosaurid dinosaur named Daspletosaurus.
And they also echo the study of the nerves and blood vessels in the jaw of another theropod, or two-legged dinosaur, named Neovenator.
According to the researchers, both make it likely that the facial areas of theropods were highly sensitive.
Dr Kawabe added: “This completely changes our perception of T rex as a dinosaur that was insensitive around its mouth, putting everything and anything in, biting at anything and everything including bones.”
It is thought that T rex lived until it was around 30 years old, reaching sexual maturity at approximately 15 years.
At 15,000 pounds, it weighed around the same as six average single decker buses.
T rex lived from the late Jurassic Period (around 150 million years ago) to the latest Cretaceous Period (about 65 million years ago).
They reached their greatest dominance in the latter.
According to a paper published in the journal, Science, 2.5 billion T rex have roamed the earth in all of time.
Originally published by Express