Fossils: ‘Talkative’ dinosaur emitted ‘strong sounds’ to scare away predators and attract mates

Palaeontologists have unearthed a species of ‘talkative’ dinosaur from 73 million years ago that emitted ‘strong sounds’ to scare off predators and attract mates.

The crested creature — Tlatolophus galorum — was found near General Cepeda in north-east Mexico by experts with the National Institute of Anthropology and History.

The articulated tail of the newly-identified hadrosaur (or ‘duck-billed dinosaur‘) has been placed on public display in the municipal seat of General Cepeda.

Palaeontologists have unearthed a species of ‘talkative’ dinosaur from 73 million years ago that emitted ‘strong sounds’ to scare off predators and attract mates. Pictured: an artist’s impression of how the crested creature, Tlatolophus galorum, might have looked in life

In all ‘lambeosaurines’ — the crested hadrosaurs — the crest is suspected to have had a communicative function, with its numerous internal passages and connections to the nose and trachea allowing to function much like a trumpet. Pictured: T. galorum’s skull and crest, as seen in the newly-discovered fossil (left) and interpretive drawing (right, with a reconstruction of the specimen’s missing bones shown inset)

TLATOLOPHUS GALORUM STATS

Type: Hadrosaur (‘duck-billed’ dino)

Length: 26.2 feet (8 metres)

Height: 8.2 feet (2.5 metres) 

Crest: 4.3 feet (1.3 metres) long

Lived: 72–73 million years ago

Diet: Herbivorous (plant-eating) 

According to the researchers, the tail of T. galorum was found first, back in 2013, with subsequent excavations revealing around 80 per cent of the dinosaur’s skull, its 4.3 feet (1.3 metre) -long crest, as well as bones including the femur and shoulder.

‘Although we had lost hope of finding the top of the specimen, once we recovered the tail we continued digging under where it was located,’ said paper author Ángel Ramírez-Velasco of National Autonomous University of Mexico.

‘The surprise was that we began to find bones such as the femur, the scapula and other elements,’ he added.

Analysis of the crest and nose showed that T. galorum differed from other hadrosaur specimens recovered from the region.

In all ‘lambeosaurines’ — the crested hadrosaurs — the crest is suspected to have had a communicative function, with its numerous internal passages and connections to the nose and trachea allowing to function much like a trumpet. 

‘We know that they had ears with the capacity of hearing low-frequency sounds, so they must have been peaceful but talkative dinosaurs,’ the researchers said. 

The team explained that the dinosaur was exceptionally well-preserved.

‘About 72 or 73 million years ago, a huge herbivore dinosaur died in what must have been a body of water full of sediment, so that its body was quickly covered by the earth and could be preserved through the ages,’ the experts said in a statement.

‘It is an exceptional case in Mexican palaeontology,’ they continued.

‘Highly favourable events had to occur millions of years ago, when Coahuila was a tropical region, like a great coastal plain, for [the dinosaur] to be conserved in the conditions it was found in.’

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