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Could the T. Rex Have Had an Air Conditioner in its Head?

Credit: Brian Engh

No, not a literal one.

Scientists from the University of Missouri, Ohio State University, and the University of Florida are all challenging the beliefs that two large holes in the roof of a T. Rex’s skull were filled with muscles to assist in the movement of its large jaw.

The scientists found it hard to believe that a muscle could come up from the jaw, make a 90-degree turn, and go across the roof of a skull. They have noticed more evidence that there were blood vessels in this area, based on their study of alligators and other reptiles.

With the use of thermal imaging, devices that translate heat into visible light, researchers looked at alligators at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park in Florida and came up with a different theory. They observed that an alligator’s body heat depends on the environment it is in.

When the temperature was cooler, alligators would warm up in a way that showed hot spots in the holes in the roof of their skull, which identified a rise in temperature. When temperatures warmed up, the holes were completely dark, almost like they were turned off. Turning them off would allow the species to feel cool.

Prior evidence had always concluded that alligators have a cross-current circulatory system. This is a way for them to adjust to various temperatures. It would make sense, since alligators had the same type of holes on their skull, that a T. Rex would have the same ability to control the temperature in its body. Why would there be muscles in the exact same spot that blood vessels are found for alligators?