New Discovery Provides Additional Evidence That Tyrannosaurs May Have Been Cannibals

Saturday, 07 November 2015 - 2:19PM
Saturday, 07 November 2015 - 2:19PM
New Discovery Provides Additional Evidence That Tyrannosaurs May Have Been Cannibals
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Everyone knows the t-rex was one mean dinosaur, but a new paleontological find suggests that they might have also been cannibalistic.

Loma Lida University's Matthew McLain and his colleagues recently presented their discovery at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America. The team had found a tyrannosaur bone in eastern Wyoming which had obvious teeth marks on it from some sort of predator. Further examination of the bone ruled out the idea of the teeth marks belonging to some other creature, such as a crocodile.

The analysis showed that the teeth had to have belonged to a theropod dinosaur, and as there is only evidence of two types of theropods living in the region at that time (Tyrannosaurus rex and Nanotyrannus lancensis), the only explanation is that these tyrannosaurs were cannibals.

McLain had this to say about the find:

Opening quote
To our knowledge, this is the first description of tyrannosaur cannibalism in the Lance Formation […] Tyrannosaur cannibalism has been previously noted in Daspletosaurus in the Dinosaur Park Formation in Alberta, Canada.
Closing quote

There's no evidence as of yet concerning whether the tyrannosaur was responsible for killing it's meal, or whether or not it simply scavenged it. There's a lot of evidence that the t-rex was both a hunter and a scavenger, so it could really go either way. It must be agreed, however, that the idea of two tyrannosaurs battling to the death with the winner receiving a full course meal is a lot more exciting than the idea of a t-rex randomly stumbling upon another dead dinosaur.  

It's exciting to see how much there is still to learn about these amazing creatures that lived so long ago.  Scientists may not be able to observe them directly, but there's still so much to learn about ancient animal behavior and evolution by studying fossils like the one's found by McLain and his colleagues.
Science News