Updated: Apr 6, 2020
You've all seen the Jurassic Park films. It's hard to forget the scene of the giant Tyrannosaurus rex attacking a jeep as a pair of terrified kids scream. However, modern paleontological research paint a very different picture of the tyrant lizard.
Dr. Aydan Sattler from the Xavier Institute released a study in April's edition of Xavier Science Today suggesting that the Tyrannosaurus rex was not a carnivore, but rather had a plant-based diet! Sattler's team recently unearthed a mostly-complete skeleton of a small pack of T-rex's in what can only be described as a garden. One of the T-rex skeletons even held a stone slab attached to a small tree trunk with the words chiseled "#GoAnimalFree". Scientists are now debating whether or not this is the earliest use of a hashtag.
HAPPY APRIL FOOL'S DAY!
The above article is, of course, a complete work of fiction. But here are some actual interesting facts about the great Tyrannosaurus rex!
T-rex had feathers! Trace fossil remains on juvenile T-rex skeletons suggest that young Rex was born with soft, downy feathers. The animal would shed most of its down as it grew into adulthood, retaining and developing adult feathers that stretched along its head and tail.
T-rex likely hunted in packs! In 2014, Canadian researchers released the first evidence that suggested that T-rex hunted in small packs. The team unearthed a set of T-rex track ways in British Columbia, left by three animals travelling in the same direction at the same time. Many track ways were discovered at the site, all moving in different directions, which suggests that the T-rex pack were not forced to travel in the same direction due to geographical constraints. Richard McCrea of the Peace Region Palaeontology Research Centre commented, "When you find three track ways together, going in same direction, it's not necessarily good evidence for gregarious behaviour. They could be walking along a shore. But if all the other animals are moving in different directions, it means there is no geographical constraint, and it strengthens the case."
T-rex didn't roar! Audiences were blown away as an adult T-rex came roaring to life on the silver screen! However, research released in 2017 suggests something far more sinister. Naturalist Chris Packham partnered with researchers at the University of Texas, led by Professor Julie Clarke, tested the theory that dinosaurs would have sounded more similar to birds and reptiles rather than mammal predators. The ream combined the call of a Eurasian bittern with a Chinese crocodile growl, and then scaled it up to T-rex’s estimated size (about 12 meters or 40 feet long). The result was a chilling ominous rumble. SEE CLIP HERE
"The researchers describe it as a low rhythmic thud, similar to the sounds you often get in horror movie music, because low-frequency noise, which is often felt as well as heard, is more frightening, or even potentially paralyzing, than high-frequency noise.
Studying T-rex's inner ear showed that it was also particularly sensitive to low-frequency sounds, which can travel through the ground, suggesting that this may have been how the creatures "talked" to each other over long distances, much like elephants and whales do."
Want to learn more about T-Rex? The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of Their Lost World by Steve Brusatte [book]
T. Rex and the Crater of Doom by Walter Alvarez [book]
Tyrannosaurus rex, National Geographic webpage