Why Dinosaurs can’t sing

“A monument of inefficiency: the presumed course of the recurrent laryngeal nerve in sauropod dinosaurs…”

Mathew J Wedel

Endocrine Surgeons have a lot of respect for the recurrent laryngeal nerve. Injure it and the consequences for the voice and breathing are dramatic. The embyrological development of this nerve has been a touchstone in developmental biology as an example of suboptimal morphology. The RLN is a branch of the vagus that develops below the aortic arch and hence travels from the brain into the chest and then back into the neck. Prior subject of this blog, Richard Owen, demonstated that all tetrapod animals, right up to giraffes and blue whales show this pattern. Mathew Wedel in his 2011 paper in ACTA Palaeontologica Polonica, suggests that the same anatomy existed in dinosaurs. Hence the Supersaurus, the largest dinosaur species based on fossil neck vertebrae, would have individual RLN cells approaching 40 metres in length. Motor cranial nerves are inefficient, essentially designed to work with great accuracy, but only over short distances. The end result is that large dinosaurs would have very poor laryngeal motor function and vocalisation. #notallofusaresingers #letsmakelemonade

1 thought on “Why Dinosaurs can’t sing

  1. I wonder what sort of sound a Supersaurus emitted.


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