In films and television documentaries, dinosaurs often roar like lions. But in fact, there is no evidence to suggest that they made such noises. On the contrary, the existing evidence suggests they didn’t, for a couple of reasons.

First, a lion’s roar is made possible by the big cat’s vocal cords: folds of tissue in their throats. We also have vocal cords, as do many animals, but those of lions are fine-tuned to make loud and intense noises, and there’s no direct fossil evidence that dinosaurs had these same structures.

Second, dinosaurs were the ancestors of birds, so it’s likely some made more bird-like noises. One 2016 study argued that some dinosaurs made closed-mouth vocalisations like the ‘booms’ ostriches make. Modern-day birds have a voice box, called a syrinx, that allows them to chirp. A syrinx was recently found fossilised in a bird that lived in the Cretaceous, raising the possibility that some non-bird dinosaurs had syrinxes too.

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Asked by: Steven Riley, Aberdeen

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Steve is a professor and palaeontologist at the University of Edinburgh and the author of the book The Rise And Reign Of The Mammals (£20, Picador), a 325-million-year odyssey of mammalian evolution and the people who study mammal fossils.