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Rumours: T-Rex Won't Kill You?

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February 10, 2010

01:44

The Tyrannosaurus rex has to be one of nature's all time greatest predators: blood-thirsty, fast, and strong. All equipped with massive teeth and the IQ of a peanut.

Because Jurassic Park said so. But maybe Jurassic Park is just typical Hollywood; after all, you can't actually clone dinosaurs from mosquitoes suspended in amber. But if T-rex wasn't a killing machine, then what exactly was it? And why did we just crush the imaginations of millions of young boys?

Host: Torah Kachur

Photo credits: Wikimedia, Dinosaur World, Lexxonline, Disney, Universal Studios, Pharyngula

References:

http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/diapsids/saurischia/tyrannosauridae.html

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/3112527.stm

YOUR COMMENTS

cdashdashb on March 13, 2010
I wonder if there are any modern examples for body size compared to scavenging success? Can such a large body plan be sustained through scavenging (Even accounting for the size of prey) alone? Does its size give it some sort of advantage in both finding carcasses and keeping them?

I suppose its size would give it an advantage at a fresh corpse as far as competition for it is concerned, but I can't help but feel that it wasn't simply a scavenger; it just doesn't feel right.

Or maybe it's just my boyhood dinosaur fantasies being crushed underfoot that explains my unwillingness to believe.
March 15, 2010
There is some evidence that larger body size in scavengers is related to availability of food. And, in fact, it is the opposite of what you would expect. Larger scavengers tend to evolve in gross-dead-thing scarce environments. This maybe because larger carcass-lovers can have a bigger scavenging range. Large body size also ensures that the T-rex couldn't be prey for anything - lending to the T-rex as a crazy blood-thirsty predator fantasy. But - I didn't want to crush your boyhood dreams - T-rex is a scavenger is still just a hypothesis. Don't stop believing! See Collins, et al. 2005 (Proceedings of the Royal Society) and Ruxton 2004 (Journal of Theoretical Biology) if you really want to read the primary scientific papers.
Alex on September 01, 2010
This video contains one very big mistake, albeit made as a joke. Hyenas are, in fact, highly intelligent. More so than wolves, and have even been compared to primates in their ability to strategize and socialize.
Alex on September 01, 2010
I should also add that hyenas only scavenge about 5% of their food.

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