The fascination with T. Rex goes back a really long time, and whether you're a world class paleontologist, or some average Joe who loved Jurassic Park, T. Rex was definitely on your mind at some point. The biggest and most fierce hunter there was... or was he ? Scientists have been debating his diet for half a century, with one side claiming it fed by scavenging, while the other one is defending the dinosaur as a fearsome hunter.
Tyrannosaurus Rex - a rightful king?
Recently, the debate seemed to shift to one direction, as more and more arguments seemed to disapprove the fact that T. Rex was a scavenger. His honour is also at stake, but mostly it's all about understanding the eating habits of probably the most known dinosaur ever to walk the Earth. In the scavenger camp, one of the members was Jack Horner at the Museum of the Rockies in Montana, who served as technical adviser on the Jurassic Park movies. He claims that despite his razor sharp teeth, huge head and muscular build, he would have been a dreadful hunter, due to the pathetic forearms and apparently poor eyesight.
But latest studies, including the one performed recently by the Zoological Society of London reaffirm T. Rex as the mean green killing machine most people know him as.
"It is effectively impossible for Tyrannosaurus rex to have fed solely or almost completely on carcasses of dead animals. T. rex lived in an ecosystem with a large number of smaller-bodied carnivorous dinosaur species and it couldn't have relied on carcasses for its diet," said Sam Turvey, a co-author of the study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Instead of focusing just on the dinosaur, they tried to put together a picture of T. Rex's ecosystem, and found out that through sheer force of numbers, other dinosaurs were 14 to 60 times more likely to encounter carcasses of dead dinosaurs than an adult T. Rex; even if the big dinosaur were to encounter a carcass, there would probably be little left for it to eat.
"If T. rex chanced upon a carcass it would have been able to keep others away and eat it, but it wouldn't have been able to find carcasses regularly enough to survive, given competition from these other species," Turvey added.