T-Rex’s reputation is restored – he was a hunter

The fascination with T. Rex goes back a really long time, and whether you’re a world class paleontologist, or some average Joe who loved Jurassic Park, T. Rex was definitely on your mind at some point. The biggest and most fierce hunter there was… or was he ? Scientists have been debating his diet for half a century, with one side claiming it fed by scavenging, while the other one is defending the dinosaur as a fearsome hunter.

Tyrannosaurus Rex – a rightful king?

Recently, the debate seemed to shift to one direction, as more and more arguments seemed to disapprove the fact that T. Rex was a scavenger. His honour is also at stake, but mostly it’s all about understanding the eating habits of probably the most known dinosaur ever to walk the Earth. In the scavenger camp, one of the members was Jack Horner at the Museum of the Rockies in Montana, who served as technical adviser on the Jurassic Park movies. He claims that despite his razor sharp teeth, huge head and muscular build, he would have been a dreadful hunter, due to the pathetic forearms and apparently poor eyesight.

But latest studies, including the one performed recently by the Zoological Society of London reaffirm T. Rex as the mean green killing machine most people know him as.

“It is effectively impossible for Tyrannosaurus rex to have fed solely or almost completely on carcasses of dead animals. T. rex lived in an ecosystem with a large number of smaller-bodied carnivorous dinosaur species and it couldn’t have relied on carcasses for its diet,” said Sam Turvey, a co-author of the study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Instead of focusing just on the dinosaur, they tried to put together a picture of T. Rex’s ecosystem, and found out that through sheer force of numbers, other dinosaurs were 14 to 60 times more likely to encounter carcasses of dead dinosaurs than an adult T. Rex; even if the big dinosaur were to encounter a carcass, there would probably be little left for it to eat.

“If T. rex chanced upon a carcass it would have been able to keep others away and eat it, but it wouldn’t have been able to find carcasses regularly enough to survive, given competition from these other species,” Turvey added.

9 thoughts on “T-Rex’s reputation is restored – he was a hunter

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  2. Zz

    tyrannosaurus rex proportionally had the second largest olfactory cavity of any land animal ever, second to the turkey vulture. an incredible sense of smell would have enabled it to easily find something dead to eat in plenty of time. its bite was powerful enough to crush bones of other large dinosaurs, the most powerful bite of all land animals ever. it also had larger teeth than all other carniverous dinosaurs, and they were serrated like steak knives. the younger tyrannosaurus rex skulls had eyes that were pointing forward more as opposed to the older ones that pointed more sideways.  this suggests an evolution toward forward vision that could be useful in finding prey, dead or alive. the brain cavity of tyrannosaurus is also proportionally larger than that of all of the other large carniverous dinosaurs. partially healed tyrannosaurus bite marks on triceratops hips suggest that the triceratops survived a tyrannosaurus attack. the tyrannosaurus that bit it was hunting it. and what scavenger doesnt hunt if there are no carcasses to eat? what hunter doesnt scavenge a free meal? tyrannosaurus arms were very powerful for their size. it is estimated that the bicep alone was able to move 400 pounds. with a mouth that mighty, tyrannosaurus didnt need arms for hunting. it evolved smaller arms in order to balance with a mouth more rugged than all others, except for a few sea creatures. tyrannosaurus had the ability to cripple and kill other large dinosaurs with one bite.

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