Tag Archives: t-rex

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.

Carnivorous humpback dinosaur surprises paleontologists

About 125 million years ago, these hunchback dinosaurs roamed today’s central Spain, measuring approximately 6 meters and feasting off of smaller animals of all sorts. However, what’s really surprising about the dinosaurs is its “hump”, a body structure never before seen in dinosaurs. A recently exposed skeletal structure revealed some unique features that has researchers raising their shoulders. The most obvious ones are of course the last two vertebrae in front of the pelvis, in the hip area that have spines that project on its back to form the hump structure.

“Wow,” Jack L. Conrad, a vertebrate paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, said of the Spanish discovery. “Overall it’s such a bizarre animal.”

Paleontoloigsts can only emit guesses about it’s purpose and functions so far.

“Probably the most plausible role for this structure is that of a deposit of fat, as occurs in some modern mammal such as in the zebu,” said Francisco Ortega of the Universidad Nacional de EducacĂ­on a Distancia, in Madrid.

Still, this theory is not quite satisfying, because unlike mammals, the dinosaur hump has an internal bony structure.

“A structure as striking as that presented by Concavenator could play a role also in communication between individuals of the same species,” Ortega told LiveScience.

He also suggests the hump might have an ornamental design, its sole purpose being to attract mates. Another interesting thing was the little scars on the forearm, that may indicate the presence of wing feathers.

“The scars on the bone look, from what I can tell, exactly like the scars left on an arm bone of a chicken or some other modern bird, and in general those are for large wing feathers,” Conrad said during a telephone interview.

If they are indeed feathers, which has not been proven yet but seems quite possible, it could be extremely interesting for the whole paleontology field, forcing scientists to rethink some of the older theories.

“If this animal had wings, that would really push back the origin of wings, and it would basically really lock in that wings didn’t appear for flight first; more likely they appeared for display,” Conrad said.

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Fossils of sea “monster” make T-Rex seem cute & fluffy

Well, that’s a bit of a stretch, but according to scientists, this giant fossil sea creature known currently just as “Predator X” had a bite that makes T-Rex seem “feeble”. This 15 meter long dinosaur had a crushing 33,000 lbs (15 tonnes) per square inch bite force.

“With a skull that’s more than 10 feet long you’d expect the bite to be powerful but this is off the scale,” said Joern Hurum, an associate professor of vertebrate paleontology. “It’s much more powerful than T-Rex”, he added.

Predator X has a bite force of about 10 times bigger than any animal that lives today and more than 4 times more powerful than that of the T-Rex. The teeth of this pliosaur which belongs to a new species was about a foot long and it’s estimated that the whole animal weighed about 45 tonnes.

“It’s not complete enough to say it’s really bigger than 15 meters,” Hurum said of the new fossil.

According to him, the bite was so powerful that it could “crush a Hummer” (actual quote). But alas, the brain was really small for this fierce predator, and it was similar in many ways to that of the great white shark. His prey consisted of squids and other marine reptiles.