Brain reconstruction hints at dinosaur communication | Science News



Support credible science journalism.

Subscribe to Science News today.

News in Brief

Brain reconstruction hints at dinosaur communication

T. rex and other dinos might have understood complex vocal calls

3:55pm, November 14, 2013

BIG MOUTH  Dinosaurs including T. rex (shown in an illustration) may have been able to communicate vocally, researchers suggest.

Sponsor Message

SAN DIEGO — Dinosaur brains may have possessed the capacity for complex vocal communication, a new study hints.

Because brains are soft and break down quickly, dinosaurs left behind few clues about their brainpower. Neuroscientist Erich Jarvis of Duke University and colleagues worked around this problem by studying dinosaurs’ living relatives: birds. The team compared the brains of crocodiles, which evolved before dinosaurs, with the brains of birds, which descended from dinosaurs.

Crocodiles and birds both have complex brain regions that help sense other animals’ vocalizations, the team reported November 12 at the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting. Since birds and crocs both have these regions, dinosaurs probably did too, the scientists suggest.

That finding suggests that dinosaurs such as T. rex were capable of processing complex stimuli, such as sounds made by other dinosaurs. As for whether dinosaurs communicated with sound, Jarvis said their study can’t say for sure. “But all the structures are there.” 


C.-C. Chen et al. Inferred organization of a dinosaur brain. Society for Neuroscience Meeting, San Diego, November 12, 2013. 

Further Reading

E. Wayman. Finding the brain’s common language. Science News. Vol. 184, July 27, 2013, p. 32.

E. Wayman. Bird, human tweets come from similar parts of the brain. Science News. Vol. 183, March 9, 2013, p. 8.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from this issue of Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content