I have been wanting to make a carnivorous reptilian creature with the ability to speak fluently using its speech muscles and its vocal tract, it can also perform facial expressions just like how humans do, but there is a problem, humans have complex facial muscles to allow them to speak properly and therefore a complex skull structure, and being a rather layperson in science I do not know how to make a reptile have the scientifically accurate skull and facial muscle structure to allow it to speak and perform facial expressions, so as a result I cannot picture what a reptile with speech and facial expression muscles would look like.

I thought that the answerer get an idea of how facial muscles and speech muscles would be applied to a reptile and the skull alterations that are required for it, I applied some images from the internet comparing the human skull with the human skull with speech and facial muscles, a dog skull with a dog skull with facial muscles and below, a lace monitor skull with a living lace monitor lizard:

Human Skull Human Facial Muscles

Dog Skull Dog Facial Muscles

Skull of Lace Monitor Lace Monitor Lizard

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to worldbuilding. Please take the tour and visit the help center to get used with the standards of this community. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 3:22
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    $\begingroup$ It's a different question, but you might be interested in some of the points made in answers to my question What sounds would be common for both forms for a human/wolf shapeshifter? $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 5:36
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    $\begingroup$ Some reptiles already have some facial muscles, do you mean lips? Also speech is more about the throat than the face, although they will end up with a chin. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 14:02
  • $\begingroup$ I mean reptiles that have facial muscles such as an Orbicularis Oris, Risorius, Zygomaticus Major, Zygomaticus Minor and all the other facial muscles that are used for speech and facial expressions. $\endgroup$
    – user202315
    Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 23:22

1 Answer 1


Reptiles might not be suited for facial expressions at all; I imagine they would be limited in range. Primates, especially humans, are social animals - we've developed a very complex form of expressions because we've evolved to interact with others. By contrast, most repetiles don't rely on the same dynamics.

A reptile, even an advanced, intelligent one, doesn't have that ancestry that makes facial expressions important to it, and it doesn't have the same muscles to display them. Human faces are flat like a billboard to exchange emotion, which lizards lack.

The interaction between primate and reptile would be interesting, actually; by human standards, all lizardmen appear stoic and cold, but by lizardmen standards humans are just weird. They're alien creatures to each other, they operate on different social dynamics.

Instead, reptiles might develop a different means of interacting rather than with facial or verbal movements. Some gestures, like bearing teeth are universal for aggression, but otherwise reptiles use more body gestures to transmit feeling. Coiling their tail, scraping their claws would have their own meaning; they've evolved to interpret body language instead of facial movements.

Basically humans would have difficulty interacting with lizardmen, and lizardmen wouldn't easily understand humans. The individuals could learn how to decipher the others traits, but it wouldn't be as natural for them as it is between those of same species.

  • $\begingroup$ Hi Wyvern, while I agree with what you've written here it doesn't seem to directly answer the question. Are you saying that the reptile would never have facial muscles? $\endgroup$
    – Tim B
    Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 11:20
  • $\begingroup$ I'd say that reptiles wouldn't develop the same range of facial expressions, or at least not ones that humans could intepret. They would have different means of communicating with body posture (or even smell) they likely wouldn't evolve the same facial tics. Therefore their facial muscles aren't so developed. $\endgroup$
    – user54563
    Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 11:31
  • $\begingroup$ This is assuming that reptiles spontaneously develop facial and speech muscles, what would they look like and where would the facial muscles and speech muscles be located? $\endgroup$
    – user202315
    Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 23:17

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