T. Rex More Like Hyena Than Rampaging Hunter

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Randy Irmis

    Tearing through the overgrown prehistoric jungle, snapping its scythe-like incisors as it chases just-out-of-reach and rather-huge prey -- usually with a pulse-pounding soundtrack and ear-bleeding sound effects ... this is how we think of Tyrannosaurus Rex.

    Now add this to the visual cue: picking at a week-old carcass or plucking a dog-size dinner from the plain.

    The behavior of T. Rex was probably more like a hyena than a lion, according to Jack Horne from the Museum of the Rockies and Mark B. Goodwin from UC-Berkeley (article here).

    These experts just completed a dinosaur census in the Hell Creek Formation of Montana, which dates from 65-95 million years old. The study was begun in 1999 by both scientists.

    T. Rex would have needed to be more opportunistic in its ways to sustain its health and growth. Eating carion or preying on smaller animals would have accompanied the pursuit of the bigger, grazing dinosaurs.

     

    “This putative apex predator is as abundant in the upper layers of the Hell Creek Formation as the herbivores, its reputed primary food source,” added Goodwin, a curator in UC Berkeley’s Museum of Paleontology and assistant director of the museum. “And it’s even more plentiful in the other two-thirds of the formation. This supports the view that T. rex benefited from a much wider variety of food sources than live prey.”