Researchers say T. Rex was sensitive lover, enjoyed foreplay

"Based on the similarities of the facial nerves and arteries we found in those same groups, which left a trace on the bone, we were able to then reconstruct ... the new tyrannosaur species", study co-author Jayc Sedlmayr, an evolutionary biologist at the Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans, said in a statement.

Tyrannosaurus rex may have been the most fearsome creature ever to walk the Earth, but he was also a sensitive lover, a new dinosaur discovery suggests. Like modern crocodiles, tyrannosaurs had faces covered with highly sensitive scales that allowed them to sense the slightest changes to their environment-like their next meal trying to avoid detection. "The flat scales cover the entire side of the snout and go to the tooth row", leaving no room for lips, he said.

The team examined fossils of a skull and skeleton of a subadult, a skull and skeleton of an adult, a partial lower jaw of a subadult, and isolated bones of subadults and juveniles. They compared tyrannosaur skulls with those of crocodylians, birds and mammals as well as earlier research matching bone texture with various types of skin covering. With a body length of approximately 9 meters, this tyrannosaur had a wide snout, small orbital horns and slit-like pneumatic opening on the inside of the lacrimal bone. The presence of many holes in the skull, called foramina, showed that the tyrannosaur had many nerves and blood vessels passing through to the soft tissues surrounding it. The large horn behind the eye was covered by the same material that makes human fingernails.

The Daspletosaurus horneri fossils were found in western Montana, highlighting the excellent record of dinosaur finds in that state, said professor David Varricchio of Montana State University, who was part of the study. Of particular importance, the researchers identified the presence of a trigeminal nerve-an important sensory nerve of the face and jaws in many animals, not just tyrannosaurs.

This would effectively have turned the T-rex's face into a kind of third "hand", as sensitive to touch as a human finger tip.

In other animals, the trigeminal nerve has evolved to enable wildly different "sixth senses", such as the sensing of magnetic fields among birds, electroreception in the platypus bill, the sensitivity of cat whiskers and elephant tusks, and the ability of alligators to sense vibrations through water.

  • Carolyn Briggs