This Is What T-Rexes Actually Sounded Like

Hint: it's not like the movies.

dinoAmblin/Universal/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

From the Jurassic film saga to the King Kong movies, there’s no shortage of Tyrannosaurus Rexes on the big screen. Often portrayed as one of the biggest and baddest of the dinosaurs, the T-Rex inspires fear in on-screen characters and cinema-goers alike. When the prehistoric predator unleashes its earth-shaking roar, you know somebody onscreen is in for a bad time (and it’s probably not the dino). However, paleontologists now believe that T-Rexes sounded nothing like that.

Since the T-Rex is one of the most famous predators to ever live, film sound designers naturally gave it a classic “predatory” roar. But experts know that the T-Rex and its fellow dinos weren’t closely related to predatory mammals, like lions, bears, and wolves, that make roaring sounds today. Dinosaurs are much more closely related to reptiles and birds.

With that knowledge, Julia Clarke, a paleontology professor at the University of Texas, decided to create a more accurate depiction of the noise the T-Rex probably made. Since crocodiles are close modern-day relatives of the T-Rex, Professor Clarke used the throaty sound of the Chinese alligator. She also used the distinct, almost musical “booming” sound of the bittern, a Eurasian wading bird. Then, she “scaled up” the sound to correspond with the T-Rex’s massive size.

The sound this experiment produced is a deep, low thrumming. BBC naturalist Chris Packham commented that you can “feel” the noise, the way you feel loud bass notes vibrating in your car. It was probably audible from miles away. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately?), we can’t know what the T-Rex actually sounded like, since it’s been extinct for millions of years. This sound is just an educated guess, from some very educated people. (Did you know that the Earth itself actually makes a sound?)

Take a listen to the sound on Telegraph UK. There’s no denying that though it lacks the bravado of a roar, it’s certainly haunting and ominous. It’s less similar to the dinosaur’s booming cinematic roar and more similar to the sinister sound of the dino’s footsteps as it approaches. (Remember the famous water cup scene in the original Jurassic Park?) We’ll leave it up to you to decide which sound is scarier.

If you want to get your dino fix, visit one of the nation’s best dinosaur museums.

 

[Source: The Telegraph UK]

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