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75-Million-Year-Old Dinosaur Voice Heard Again

A team of computer scientists and paleontologists from Sandia National Laboratories and the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science Museum has recreated the sound that a Parasaurolophus dinosaur made when it lived during the late Cretaceous period. The team accomplished this feat by using a rare 4.5 foot long fossil of the dinosaur's skull, computed tomography (CT) scans, and powerful supercomputers.

The Parasaurolophus had a bony tubular crest that extended back from the top of its head. Many scientists believed the crest, containing a labyrinth of air cavities and shaped like a trombone, might have been used to produce distinctive sounds. Once a 3-D model of the crest was created, the computer was able to simulate blowing air through it to amplify the tones it was capable of making. As expected, the dinosaur apparently emitted a resonating low-frequency rumbling sound that could change in pitch.

Each Parasaurolophus probably had a voice that was distinctive enough not only to distinguish it from other dinosaurs, but from other Parasaurolophuses. The sound may have been somewhat birdlike, and they may have made songs of some sort to call to one another.


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