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Study: T. rex had an 'air conditioning' system built into its skull

Wednesday, September 4th 2019, 5:58 pm - Researchers think the system helped T. rex survive in harsh environments.

A new study suggests that Tyrannosaurus rex was equipped with a built-in air conditioning system.

The large meat-eating dinosaur had two holes in the roof of its skull. Scientists used to think they were filled with muscles that supported jaw movement.

But now, thermal imaging has offered fresh insight into the anatomy of a T. rex's head.

Alligators, a close modern-day relative of T. Rex, also have holes in their skulls. Researchers used thermal imaging to examine their skulls to see how they function.

They found that holes in alligator skulls are filled with blood vessels, and not muscle.

The blood vessels help regulate body temperature by radiating or absorbing heat from the environment. Researchers now think T. Rex skulls functioned similarly, helping them survive in harsh environments.

"An alligator's body heat depends on its environment," said Kent Vliet, coordinator of laboratories at the University of Florida's Department of Biology and a contributor to the study, in a statement.

"Therefore, we noticed when it was cooler and the alligators are trying to warm up, our thermal imaging showed big hot spots in these holes in the roof of their skull, indicating a rise in temperature. Yet, later in the day when it's warmer, the holes appear dark, like they were turned off to keep cool. This is consistent with prior evidence that alligators have a cross-current circulatory system -- or an internal thermostat, so to speak."

In an interview with National Geographic, Holliday says he hopes his findings will inspire other researchers to test his cooling hypothesis on dinosaurs.

The findings have been published in The Anatomical Record.

Sources: Missouri University | Link to study


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