Tyrannosaurus

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Tyrannosaurus
Temporal range:
Upper Cretaceous 68–66 mya
Trex edited.jpg
Skeleton at the National Museum
of Natural History, Washington, D.C.
Scientific classification
Kingdom:
Class:
Superorder:
Order:
Suborder:
(unranked):
Family:
Genus:
Tyrannosaurus

Osborn, 1905
Species:
Tyrannosaururus rex

Osborn, 1905
An exhibit which shows how tiny the front arms are compared with the skeleton as a whole. The skeleton behind it is an Edmontonia.
Houston Museum of Natural History
Skeletons mounted as if in copulation: Jurassic Museum of Asturias, Spain.
"Sue" in The Field Museum in Chicago is the most complete Tyrannosaurus skeleton
Brain cast of Charles, at the Portobello Fossil Museum
Tyrannosaurus and human size difference, showing many specimens

Tyrannosaurus was a large predatory dinosaur from the Upper Cretaceous, 68 to 66 million years ago.[1]

Tyrannosaurus was a bipedal carnivore with a massive skull balanced by a long, heavy tail. Compared to the large and powerful hind limbs, its forelimbs were small, but powerful for their size. They had two clawed digits.

There is discussion as to whether it was a hunter or a scavenger. Like most dominant meat-eaters of today, such as lions and hyenas, Tyrannosaurus might have been both. It had a very strong jaw, and its bite power could snap the bones of other dinosaurs.

More than 30 specimens of Tyrannosaurus rex have been found. Some of them are nearly complete skeletons, and soft tissue and proteins have been reported in at least one of these specimens. Research is done on its biology, life history and biomechanics. The feeding habits, physiology and potential speed of Tyrannosaurus rex are some topics.[2] Some scientists think Tarbosaurus bataar from Asia is a second species of Tyrannosaurus, but others think Tarbosaurus is a separate genus.

Size[change | change source]

The estimated size of this dinosaur has changed many times. Packard and colleagues tested dinosaur mass calculations on elephants. They decided that dinosaur estimations are flawed and produce results which were too high. Thus, the weight of Tyrannosaurus could be much less than usually estimated.[3]

Although other theropods rivalled or exceeded Tyrannosaurus rex in size, it was the largest known tyrannosaurid and one of the largest known land predators. It was up to 12.3 m (40 ft) in length,[4] up to 4 metres (13 ft) tall at the hips,[5] and up to 6.8 metric tons (7.5 short tons) in weight.[6] By far the largest carnivore in its environment, Tyrannosaurus rex was a top predator, probably preying on hadrosaurs and ceratopsians, and/or a scavenger. The debate over Tyrannosaurus as apex predator or scavenger is among the longest running in paleontology.

For a long time, Tyrannosaurus was the largest known carnivorous dinosaur. Recently, skeletons of other, slightly larger, carnivores have been found, such as Giganotosaurus, Spinosaurus, and Carcharodontosaurus. Skeletons of Tyrannosaurus were found on the North American continent, but relatives, such as Tarbosaurus, have been found in Asia.

Skull[change | change source]

The largest known Tyrannosaurus rex skulls measure up to 5 feet (1.5 m) in length.[7] Large openings ('fenestrae') in the skull reduced weight and gave places for muscle attachment, as in all carnivorous theropods. But in other respects Tyrannosaurus's skull was significantly different from those of large non-tyrannosaurid theropods. It was extremely wide at the rear but had a narrow snout. This permitted good binocular vision.[8][9] The skull bones were massive. Some bones were fused, preventing movement between them; but many were pneumatized, with a "honeycomb" of tiny air spaces. This may have made the bones more flexible as well as lighter. These features are part of the tyrannosaurid trend towards an increasingly powerful bite. Its bite easily surpassed that of all non-tyrannosaurids.[10][11][12]

The tip of the upper jaw was U-shaped (most non-tyrannosauroid carnivores had V-shaped upper jaws), which increased the amount of tissue and bone a tyrannosaur could rip out with one bite, although it also increased the stresses on the front teeth.[13][14]

First discovery[change | change source]

The earliest Tyrannosaurus skeletons were found in 1902 by Barnum Brown. Henry Fairfield Osborn, president of the American Museum of Natural History, named the species Tyrannosaurus rex (meaning "tyrant lizard king") in 1905. The most complete skeleton was found in 1990 in South Dakota and named "Sue" after its finder, Susan Hendrickson.

Tyrannosaurus has become well known. Many movies and television shows have featured it, such as Jurassic Park. Its skeletons are popular exhibits in many museums.

Tyrannosaurus became extinct in the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event, which wiped out half of all species on Earth.

Jane[change | change source]

"Jane" at the Burpee Museum in Rockford, Illinois

Jane is a fossil specimen of a small tyrannosaurid. It is either Nanotyrannus or a juvenile Tyrannosaurus. The skeleton was found in the Hell Creek Formation in southern Montana in 2001.[15]

It took experts four years to make Jane ready for a museum. Jane went on display at Rockford, Illinois in the Burpee Museum of Natural History. Some paleontologists think Jane was a young tyrannosaurid, about 11 years old when she died. Jane is measured 6.5 metres (21.5 ft) long, about half as long as the largest known complete T. rex specimen, which is 13 m (42.6 ft) long. Experts think Jane weighed about 680 kg (1,500 lbs) when she was alive. Her large feet and long legs show her body fast and she could possibly run as fast as 20–30 miles per hour. Her lower jaw has 17 teeth. Her teeth are curved and serrated.

The scientists named her Jane even though they do not know whether she was female. She was named after Jane Solem, a person who helped the Burpee Museum.[16]

The Jane specimen has become part of an argument that scientists have. The scientists disagree whether Nanotyrannus is really a separate genus of tyrannosaurids. Jane's skull is almost exactly the same as the skull of the original Nanotyrannus specimen, which means they are the same species. The Burpee Museum held a conference in 2005. Paleontologists came to the conference and talked about whether these "pygmy tyrants" were adults from a small tyrannosaurid species or young Tyrannosaurus rexes. A few scientists thought they were adult small tyrannosaurids,[17] but most of them decided they were probably young T. rexes.[18][19] However, scientists have not fully studied Jane yet. Robert Bakker is working on it with his colleagues Peter Larson and Phil Currie.[20]

Scotty[change | change source]

Scotty exhibited in Japan

In August 1991, Robert Gebhardt was a high school principal. He joined Royal Saskatchewan Museum palaeontologists on a prospecting expedition. They went to the exposed bedrock along the Frenchman River Valley in southwest Saskatchewan, Canada. Gebhardt discovered the base of a worn tooth, and a vertebra from the tail. Both looked like they belonged to a T. rex.

In June 1994, RSM palaeontologists began excavating the T. rex. The 66-million-year-old skeleton was the first T. rex skeleton found in Saskatchewan and one of only 12 known in the world at the time. Scotty is one of the largest and most complete skeletons with almost 70% of the skeleton found. A complete articulated cast of the skeleton was finally completed in 2012 and is now on display at its permanent home at the T.rex Discovery Centre in Eastend, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Scotty's skull has a scar from the eye socket to the nostril. That was probably caused by another T. rex or large carnivore that gripped Scotty's skull in its jaws.[21] The museum staff think this is the biggest T. rex specimen found. It weighed about 8,870 kg (8.87 tonnes).[22] Scotty was perhaps in its early thirties at the time of death, and was 13 m (43 ft) long, including tail.[23]

In popular culture[change | change source]

Tyrannosaurus rex appears in many works of fiction and literature. A T. rex is important in A Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury. A T. rex is a big part of the novel Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton, and Steven Spielberg's crew built a life-sized robot T. rex and a CGI T. rex for the movie version of Jurassic Park.[24][25] Many other T. rexes have appeared in books, movies and animated works.[26]

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. Hicks J.F. et al 2002. Magnetostratigraphy and geochronology of the Hell Creek and basal Fort Union Formations of southwestern North Dakota and a recalibration of the Cretaceous–Tertiary Boundary. in J.H. Hartman, K.R. Johnson & D.J. Nichols (eds) The Hell Creek Formation and the Cretaceous–Tertiary boundary in the northern Great Plains: an integrated continental record of the end of the Cretaceous. GSA Special Paper, 361: 35–55.
  2. YouTube lecture at the Royal Institution by David Hone. [1]
  3. Boardman T.J., Packard G.C., Birchard G.F. (2009). "Allometric equations for predicting body mass of dinosaurs". Journal of Zoology. 279 (1): 102–110. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.2009.00594.x.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. Hutchinson J.R.; et al. (2011). "A computational analysis of limb and body dimensions in Tyrannosaurus rex with implications for locomotion, ontogeny, and growth". PLoS ONE. 6 (10): e26037. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0026037.
  5. "Sue's vital statistics". Sue at the Field Museum. Field Museum of Natural History. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2007-09-15.
  6. Erickson, Gregory M., GM; et al. (2004). "Gigantism and comparative life-history parameters of tyrannosaurid dinosaurs". Nature. 430 (7001): 772–775. doi:10.1038/nature02699. PMID 15306807.
  7. Montana State University (2006-04-07). "Museum unveils world's largest T-rex skull". Press release. http://www.montana.edu/cpa/news/nwview.php?article=3607. Retrieved 2008-09-13. 
  8. Stevens, Kent A. (June 2006). "Binocular vision in theropod dinosaurs" (PDF). Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 26 (2): 321–330. doi:10.1671/0272-4634(2006)26[321:BVITD]2.0.CO;2. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-02-16.
  9. Jaffe, Eric (2006-07-01). "Sight for 'Saur Eyes: T. rex vision was among nature's best". Science News. 170 (1): 3–4. doi:10.2307/4017288. JSTOR 4017288. Retrieved 2008-10-06.
  10. Snively, Eric (2006). "Fused and vaulted nasals of tyrannosaurid dinosaurs: Implications for cranial strength and feeding mechanics" (PDF). Acta Palaeontologica Polonica. 51 (3): 435–454. Retrieved 2008-10-08. Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
  11. Erickson, G.M.; et al. (1996). "Bite-force estimation for Tyrannosaurus rex from tooth-marked bones". Nature. 382 (6593): 706–708. doi:10.1038/382706a0.
  12. Meers, M.B. (August 2003). "Maximum bite force and prey size of Tyrannosaurus rex and their relationships to the inference of feeding behavior". Historical Biology: A Journal of Paleobiology. 16 (1): 1–12. doi:10.1080/0891296021000050755.
  13. Holtz, Thomas R. Jr. (2004). "Tyrannosauroidea". In David B. Weishampel, Peter Dodson and Halszka Osmólska (ed.). The dinosauria. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 111–136. ISBN 0-520-24209-2.
  14. Paul, Gregory S. (1988). Predatory dinosaurs of the world: a complete illustrated guide. New York: Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0-671-61946-2. OCLC 18350868.
  15. "NIU teams up with Burpee Museum to bring world's top dinosaur hunters to Rockford". Northern Illinois University. 7 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-09.
  16. News Release: NIU teams up with Burpee Museum to bring world's top dinosaur hunters to Rockford
  17. Larson 2005. A case for Nanotyrannus. In The origin, systematics, and paleobiology of Tyrannosauridae, a symposium hosted jointly by Burpee Museum of Natural History and Northern Illinois University.
  18. Currie et al 2005. On tyrannosaur teeth, tooth positions and the taxonomic status of Nanotyrannus lancensis. In The origin, systematics, and paleobiology of Tyrannosauridae, a symposium hosted jointly by Burpee Museum of Natural History and Northern Illinois University.
  19. Henderson 2005. Nano no more: the death of the pygmy tyrant. In The origin, systematics, and paleobiology of Tyrannosauridae, a symposium hosted jointly by Burpee Museum of Natural History and Northern Illinois University.
  20. "Tyrannosauroidea". Retrieved 2013-03-02.
  21. Roberts, David (30 June – 1 July 1994). "T-rex bones called find of giant significance". p. A7. Deseret News. Retrieved 17 August 2014.
  22. "An older and exceptionally large adult specimen of Tyrannosaurus rex. Persons W.S; Currie P.J. & Erickson G.M. 2019..pdf". Google Docs.
  23. ScienceDaily [2]
  24. Kirsten Acuna (July 11, 2014). "How 4 Minutes Of CGI Dinosaurs In 'Jurassic Park' Took A Year To Make". Business Insider. Retrieved September 3, 2020.
  25. Bibhu Prasdad Panda (August 15, 2020). "Jurassic Park: 10 Hidden Details About the Movies Spielberg Hid From of Us". Animated Times. Retrieved September 3, 2020.
  26. Brendan Quinn (February 9, 2015). "The Best Fictional T-Rexes Of All Time". CG Magazine. Retrieved September 3, 2020.