TECH

Tyrannosaurs Had A 'Sixth Sense' That Ensured They Were Always A Step Ahead Of Their Prey

Terrifying.

30/03/2017 15:49 BST | Updated 15/04/2017 23:01 BST

We’ve known for some time that tyrannosaurs boasted an arsenal of evolutionary quirks that made them fearsome predators.

And now scientists have identified a so-called “sixth sense” that ensured the gigantic carnivores were always a step ahead of their prey.

Dino Pulera

New research published in Scientific Reports describes how scales on the dinosaurs’ faces helped them detect slight changes to their environment.

According to the study, the beasts had a “highly sensitive facial tactile system that functioned in prey capture, and object identification and manipulation”. 

T-Rex even used its sensitive snout to protect its young.

Jim Young / Reuters

The system is pretty much identical to the one crocodiles use to sense their surroundings, which, as Gizmodo notes, is an example of convergent evolution.

The discovery was aided by analysis of excellently preserved fossils of a recently-discovered tyrannosaur Daspletosaurus horneri. 

Researchers were able to compare the fossils with the bones of modern animals such as crocodiles, birds and mammals to identify the feature.

The analysis reveals that the creatures had armour-like skin, horns and a face made up of flat, super sensitive scales up to its snout.