No human on earth has ever heard the roar of dinosaurs. But this has not stopped scientists and filmmakers from thinking about how dinosaurs sounded. The most famous answer may come from the movie Jurassic Park, where the roar of the dinosaurs is shown as follows:
It sounds scary, but it’s probably not realistic. Dinosaurs were reptiles, but when the sound designers created their roars for Jurassic Park, they made them mostly from mammalian sounds (using recordings of tigers, lions, koalas, donkeys, dolphins, and elephants).
There is no scientific basis for a T-Rex sounding like a donkey. Instead, the filmmakers were trying to create a sense of the presence of a dinosaur. Gary Ridestormthe sound designer of Jurassic Park had answered with a laugh: “It’s a movie” in response to a critical question about the film.
Figuring out what dinosaurs sounded like is nearly impossible because scientists can’t detect fossilized sounds. Michael Habib“Most sound-producing structures are either soft tissues or hard tissues that have low strength,” says the paleontologist on the Vox Science Podcast about unanswered questions. “It’s muscle and cartilage, and these structures don’t usually fossilize.”
However, scientists think this is an important question. Understanding the sounds of dinosaurs means a better understanding of the world they lived in and is the key to understanding how they behaved.
For starters, the shape of dinosaur skeletons provides evidence. One dinosaur, Parasaurolophus (aka Ducky in the animated film Prehistoric Land) had a long cell in its skull that allowed scientists to estimate the overall frequencies that could resonate in its head. But this cell does not tell us anything about the actual sound of the dinosaur.
However, there are some clues. In order to find out what dinosaurs actually sounded like, scientists can study their living relatives. Crocodiles make loud noises. Maybe T-Rex was the same.
To reconstruct the sounds of dinosaurs, scientists can study their living relatives. If they have a common ancestor, they may have had similar sound production methods. One such related group is the crocodilians (crocodiles, crocodilians, caimans), which share a common ancestor with dinosaurs that lived about 250 million years ago.
If you watch Jurassic Park, you’ll see a t-rex open its mouth and roar, but if t-rexes had been more crocodilian-like, they’d probably make noises with their mouths closed. “They roar so loudly that you can see the ripples on the water around them,” Habib says of the alligators. “They practically rock the lake.”
Larger animals tend to produce louder sounds than smaller animals. So, imagine a large dinosaur that is several times larger than the average crocodile; It is possible that these dinosaurs produced sounds with their mouths closed. Julia Clarke By reducing the height of the crocodile’s voice, the paleontologist has simulated the sound of the T-Rex as follows:
As the pitch decreases sharply, the sound approaches a range known as infrasound. Just as the wavelength of infrared light is so long that humans cannot normally see it, infrasound waves vibrate so slowly that it is difficult for humans to hear them.
Therefore, if dinosaurs produced high-pitched sounds like crocodilians, it can be said that many of their sounds were difficult for humans to hear. Human ear hairs are too small to vibrate as a result of this sound, but larger parts of the body may vibrate. If a human could go back in time, he could feel the sounds of dinosaurs with his legs or chest, which is terrifying!
Crocodiles are a good starting point for visualizing dinosaur sounds, but they are not the closest living relatives of dinosaurs, and that honor goes to birds, the direct descendants of dinosaurs. If birds are dinosaurs’ closest relatives, then maybe dinosaurs could sing too.
But how can birds reveal the sounds of dinosaurs? A clue: Birds have unique vocal organs. Most vertebrates produce sound using the larynx, which is a vocal organ located in the throat, but birds use the syrinx, which is a vocal organ located deep in the chest next to the heart.
Since the eardrum is located deep in the chest, it is more efficient in producing sound. In fact, this is why small birds can make loud noises. Additionally, unlike the larynx, the snot has two openings, so birds can produce multiple sounds simultaneously. Habib says: “They can perform duets with themselves. For example, the jungle touka does this and sings two notes at the same time.”
But if birds are actually small dinosaurs, why consider crocodilians at all? The problem is that scientists aren’t sure when soteks first appeared.
Clarke found a soteki from 67 million years ago (about a million years before the extinction of the large dinosaurs), but the soteki belonged to an ancient duck, not a large dinosaur. He has yet to find solid evidence of a large dinosaur having a tail. But because soteks are soft structures, evidence of them is difficult to find (the sotek that Clarke found was an extremely rare find). Therefore, it is possible that there are other ancient soteks that have not yet been discovered.
Did dinosaurs perform duets with themselves?
If scientists prove that dinosaurs had vocal cords, a world of sonic possibilities will open up. Perhaps the sounds of dinosaurs were similar to large flightless birds such as ostriches, which could produce different sounds.
But the bigger the dinosaur, the weirder it sounds. Habib describes the sound of the possible large dinosaur’s sotek as a large trumpet sound that sounds very low and sounds like a beat. He describes this sound as:
But wait. A possible dinosaur sound could get a lot weirder. Sotek allows the dinosaur to make two sounds simultaneously. Therefore, Habib takes his imagination further: “Take two big trumpets and make them produce sounds with different notes and with the highest volume together. The resulting sound will be like a kind of war trumpet.
It is also possible that dinosaurs produced a combination of bird and crocodilian sounds. Habib says that maybe they had the ability to make sounds like birds with their mouths open and like crocodilians with their mouths closed. He thinks like this:
Perhaps they could make open-mouth sounds with two different tones and then also make closed-mouth sounds. Also, they were able to switch between these two types of sounds, meaning they could roar and, while your body was still shaking from their roar, open their mouths and produce two non-infrasound but very low notes.
Habib warns that since we don’t know if the big dinosaurs had a stomach, these cases are only speculations. A more conservative estimate, he says, is to use sounds based on crocodilian sounds. But the best approach is probably a careful combination of all of the above.
In one of the Unexplainable podcasts, sound designer Christian Ayala Vox It has tried to produce the possible sounds of dinosaurs based on the described cases. Based on what he learned from paleontologists and by combining the sounds of chickens, water pipes, pigeons, as well as using trumpets, ostriches and crocodiles, he produced a T-Rex sound that you can hear:
Did the T-Rex really sound like this? Nobody knows! But it’s possible that there’s a more accurate representation than what you hear in Jurassic Park. Scientists believe that the sound of dinosaurs is not an unimportant matter.
Sound is important because it reveals how these ancient animals communicated, how they moved, and how they lived.
Scientists may never know what the world of the dinosaurs was really like, but by trying to recreate the sounds of the dinosaurs, they can better visualize the world in which these animals lived.