The Tyrannosaurus Rex, also known as T. rex, is the most famous dinosaur in the world! Beloved by not only paleontologists but kiddos, especially for its large teeth, the T. rex is a theropod (a typically two-footed, predominantly meat-eating dinosaur) that could grow as long as 40 feet and weigh up to 8 metric tons!
For years, movies like Jurassic Park, TV shows, and books have depicted the T. rex as the dinosaur kingdom's most ferocious predator. From chasing Jeff Goldblum to fighting with King Kong, the T. rex is always large and in charge. But, is that the whole story? Over the years, some scientists have questioned whether our understanding of the T. rex as a powerful hunter is actually true. Some have even argued that the T. rex was more of a scavenger than a hunter, stealing his meals from other, more nimble predators rather than catching them himself!
Could it be? Let's find out...
First, the most noticeable feature of the T. rex is its humungous skull, which could reach almost 5 ft in length! Woah, now that's a big skull! It is said the T. rex had the strongest bite of any land animal that has ever existed. T. rex also had an amazing sense of smell. Scientists figured that out by measuring the size of specific parts of the brain that are responsible for smelling.
I know what you're thinking: with its large body, big skull, giant teeth, powerful jaws, and keen sense of smell... why are their arms so small?!? Don't be fooled, while they may be tiny, they were powerful! Some scientists estimate that these dinos were able to pull up to 400 lbs with those tiny arms!
All these things seem to point to the T. rex being a pretty scary hunter that could smell prey a mile away and chomp them down with bone-crushing jaws.
But, those things might also point to the T. rex being a great scavenger. A great nose and powerful bite are also pretty important for smelling dead animals and being able to chew through tough dino bones.
So, which is it?
The answer is both. Scientists believe that the T. rex was a large, terrifying predator and also an opportunistic scavenger. Not so different from your every day dog who is always trying to catch that squirrel, but wouldn't turn down a hamburger left on the sidewalk. Paleontologists have been able to piece together this knowledge from fossils, including a few fossils that show a T. rex leaving a tooth behind in the skeleton of some would-be prey. Funny enough, the animal that got away is pretty good evidence that the T. rex hunted!