A recent study, which analyzed dinosaur fossils dating back to 66 million years ago has revealed that T. Rex was no stranger to cannibalism.
The findings are to be detailed today by Matthew McLain, PhD geology candidate at Loma Linda University in California. The presentation will be held at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America, taking place in Baltimore, Maryland.
Paleontologists had unearthed the Tyrannosaurus Rex bones in Lance Formation, Wyoming. Unusual scratches were identified on the remnants of the dinosaur, as if another animal had ravaged it.
That was highly unusual, given that the “Tyrant King Lizard” was known to have been an apex predator, which had no enemies powerful enough to hunt it.
And yet the fossil did that these teeth marks, which ran deep on both ends of the bone. They indicated that the flesh had been torn off violently, by an attacker feeding off its prey, just like it happens nowadays when a lion or a hyena devour their meal.
Moreover, the indentations were distributed in a line of smaller parallel grooves, which suggests that the predator had serrated teeth, and had to throw its head back while pulling off flesh from the carcass.
At the time in the Cretaceous Period only crocodiles and other T. Rex had this particularity called “inertia feeding”, which allowed them to ingest whole bones and flesh thanks to sturdy neck muscles.
Crocodiles wouldn’t have had the strength and skill to attack and vanquish a massive Tyrannosaurus, since the voracity of a T. Rex bite amounted to 57,000 newtons or 12,800 pounds.
Therefore, it becomes clear that “Tyrant King” actually indulged in cannibalism, and this isn’t the first time that such a theory regarding these predators has been launched, as study leader Matthew Mclain has explained.
For example, back in 2010, a team of researchers led by Nicholas Longrich discovered four Tyrannosaurus Rex bones which also had ridges that seemed to have been caused by dinosaurs of the same species gnawing on them.
The hypothesis that T. Rex may have turned against each other for survival and sustenance had appeared even worthier of being taken into account since nowadays numerous carnivorous species such as sharks also display cannibalistic tendencies.
Now, much more definitive proof was furnished to support this theory, which gives greater insight into the feeding practices, daily diet and overall biology displayed by this ferocious predator.
It is clear now that the bones really did belong to this species, and computer modeling gives further evidence of cannibalism provoking those telltale indentations.
The damage could’ve only been caused by the same type of dinosaur, which was the only theropod inhabiting the ancient island continent of Laramidia at the time.
On the other hand, it must be noted that T. Rex also attacked other animals, and didn’t simply act as a passive scavenger.
Researchers have previously encountered Edmontosaurus fossils which had healed bite marks and even a piece of tooth belonging to a Tyrannoaurus still trapped inside. This suggests that the animal had been chased and hunted down, but eventually managed to escape its pursuer.
The next goal which paleontologists have in mind following their latest breakthrough is to analyze the bones found in Wyoming with greater carefulness, in order to determine the size of the animal, and whether it was a juvenile or an adult.
This will allow an even deeper understanding of the these long-extinct predators, which had once seemed invincible.
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