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Dinosaurs could have lived underground: scientists have an interesting theory

Dmytro IvancheskulNews
Probably not all dinosaurs liked life on the surface. Source: Neurosciencenews/Anthony Hutchings/collage by OBOZ.UA

Some of the dinosaurs that once roamed our planet may have actually lived underground rather than on the ground. We are talking, in particular, about T. neglectus or their ancestors, which were small but massive animals that lived in the territory of modern North America more than 66 million years ago.

This is stated in a study published in Scientific Reports. The authors studied a dinosaur named Willo, which is an exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

Computed tomography of the dinosaur's skull allowed scientists to recreate its brain, which contained several surprises. It turned out that T. Neglectus had an amazing sense of smell but terrible hearing.

Scientists note that these traits are common in modern animals that spend at least part of their time underground, so they assume that the ancestors of this dinosaur could have done so as well.

It also had an extremely well-developed sense of balance, which helped it accurately determine its body position in three-dimensional space (another trait often found in burrowing animals).

"We have strong evidence that T. rex ancestors spent some of their time underground," said study co-author Dr. Lindsay Zanno of the University of North Carolina.

She explained that the researchers cannot say for sure whether T. rex spent time underground as it may have simply inherited this particular set of sensory strengths and weaknesses from its ancestors.

"But we can say with certainty that it still has adaptations that make it suited to spending time underground," Zanno said.

The study showed that the hearing range of T. Neglectus is limited, and they are only able to hear about 15% of the frequencies that humans can recognize. In particular, the dinosaurs could not hear high-frequency sounds well, but they compensated for this hearing loss with an exceptional sense of smell.

The researchers found that T. rex was best at hearing low-frequency sounds and that the range of frequencies it could hear coincided with that of a tyrannosaurus.

"This doesn't tell us that they were adapted to hear the voice of a tyrannosaurus, but it certainly wouldn't hurt them to know when a large predator was operating in the area. What was more interesting to us was the fact that these are the deficiencies often associated with animals that spend time underground," Zanno explained.

The dinosaur was about 3.6 meters long and weighed about 340 kilograms.

Earlier, OBOZ.UA reported that dinosaurs existed on Earth, but in a completely different part of the galaxy.

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