As It Happens

Dinosaurs didn't roar. They cooed, according to scientists

University of Texas geoscientist Chad Eliason says that new studies of bird evolution suggest that real dinosaurs didn't roar like the ones in the movies. They were more likely to mumble with their mouths shut or coo.
Dinosaurs of the show 'Dinosaurier - Im Reich Der Giganten' perform at the Messe Freiburg in 2009 in Freiburg, Germany. (Photo by Miguel Villagran/Getty Images)

Chad Eliason thinks we have the wrong idea about the dinosaur's roar.

The University of Texas researcher tells As It Happens guest host Susan Bonner that he's been working on his own dinosaur impression. "On the way to work I would try to make these sounds myself." You can hear that here: 
Eliason's dinosaur impression
New research by University of Texas Researcher Chad Eliason suggests dinosaurs didn't roar; they cooed. (Chad Eliason)
"We want to imagine them as something totally unlike anything we have today. We think of them producing these sounds with an open mouth, a roar that we see in Jurassic Park."

Eliason says the evidence suggests otherwise. "We know now that birds are essentially these flying dinosaurs. So I think we need to reframe our thinking and see how are birds and their relatives, crocodiles, producing these sounds to really understand potentially how dinosaurs did it."

Eliason's team analyzed closed-mouth vocalizations among a number of birds and other reptilian groups in their research that is published in the August print issue of the journal, Evolution. 

"You can imagine the coo of a dove. We think that these coos or these booms or these low frequency hooting sounds may have been possible as these dinosaurs were showing off to a nearby female or communicating to a nearby animal."

Tell us what you think!

Help shape the future of CBC article pages by taking a quick survey.