T.rex hunted like a lion, rather than regularly scavenging like a hyena, reveals new research published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
The findings end a long-running debate about the hunting behaviour of this awesome predator.
Scientists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) used an ecological model based on predator relationships in the Serengeti to determine whether scavenging would have been an effective feeding strategy for T.rex.
Previous attempts to answer the question about T.rex's hunting behaviour have focused on its morphology. The flaw in this approach is that two species can possess similar physical features and still have very different hunting strategies, such as vultures and eagles.
Lead author Dr Chris Carbone, says "By understanding the ecological forces at work, we have been able to show that scavenging was not a viable option for T.rex as it was out-competed by smaller, more abundant predatory dinosaurs.
"These smaller species would have discovered carcasses more quickly, making the most of 'first-come-first-served' opportunities."
Like polar bears and lions, the authors conclude that an individual T.rex would have roamed over large distances to catch its prey, potentially areas several times the size of Greater London.
This research now opens the door to look at the behaviour of T.rex as a hunter.
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More information: The paper 'Intra-guild competition and its implications for one of the biggest terrestrial predators, Tyrannosaurus rex' (DOI:10.1098/rspb.2010.249) will be published online in Proceedings of the Royal Society B on Wednesday 26 January, 2011.