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Triassic period: The Noisy Planet

Posted on August 18th, 2023 by Gerhard

This recent discovery of an 80 million-year-old fossilized voice box from a dinosaur called Pinacosaurus grangeri has provided intriguing insights into the vocalizations of these ancient creatures. This rare find suggests that dinosaurs might have sounded more birdlike than we thought, with a world filled with rumbles, grunts, roars, and maybe even chirps.

The connection between the voice box of P. grangeri and modern birds hints that dinosaurs might have had their own noisy ways of communicating, much like the diverse range of birds we hear today. Roosters are famous for their early morning crowing, but they’re not the only birds that make their presence known through sound.

Songbirds like robins and nightingales sing both day and night, while owls are known for their distinctive hooting calls during the night. Mockingbirds can sing at all hours, and blackbirds often serenade in the early morning and late evening. Kookaburras in Australia are known for their loud, laughing call at dawn and dusk, and the eerie calls of common loons can be heard day and night. Even nocturnal birds like whip-poor-wills and nightjars add to the symphony with their continuous calling during the evening and early morning hours.

The Mesozoic Era, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, was likely filled with a similar diversity of sounds. Different regions would have had unique soundscapes, influenced by local plants, animals, and geography. By looking at the vocal behaviors of modern birds, we can get clues about how dinosaurs might have used sound. Were they calling out to each other across vast distances? Were they using sound for courtship or to warn others of danger? The possibilities are fascinating.

The discovery of the fossilized voice box in Pinacosaurus grangeri has opened up new ways of thinking about the sounds of the past. It’s a reminder that the world has always been a place filled with sound, and that the echoes of the past continue to resonate in the world we know today. Next time you hear a rooster crowing or a nightingale singing, you might just find yourself thinking about the roars of dinosaurs and the noisy world they once ruled. It’s a connection that brings the distant past a little closer and adds a touch of wonder to the everyday sounds around us, from the break of dawn to the quiet of the night.

Posted in Science, Thoughts