No leftovers for T. rex

Jan 26, 2011
Tyrannosaurus rex. Image: Nobu Tamura, via Wikipedia.

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 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 .

"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.

Provided by Zoological Society of London

4 /5 (2 votes)

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User comments : 6

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barakn
5 / 5 (1) Jan 26, 2011
Considering that lions are social animals that hunt in groups, the lion analogy is just as bad as the hyena analogy.
Yellowdart
5 / 5 (1) Jan 26, 2011
Yes, and dont most wild dogs like the hyena hunt in packs as well? I wanna say the Planet Earth series had some footage of that. Most predators dont mind scavaging anyway, why pass up the easy meal?
tired
4 / 5 (1) Jan 26, 2011
Lions and hyenas both hunt in packs, but neither do it exclusively. Thus, the lion comparison is better. How accurate it is we obviously still do not know. Maybe T. Rex sometimes hunted in packs... It's not impossible, however crazy it may sound.
Djincs
not rated yet Jan 26, 2011
I think smaller prey were too fast for him, and too big prey, well i cant imagine how he can cope, if he flip over it will be too hard to get on his feet again....he was a scavenger after all, imo.
And his underdeveloped front limbs....doesnt look like a hunter to me.
Djincs
not rated yet Jan 26, 2011
"These smaller species would have discovered carcasses more quickly, making the most of 'first-come-first-served' opportunities."
If you take the account that the dead bodies were much bigger, and if we should look what happens in Africa, there is still enough for young or adult lions (not having females) not so good at hunting, after the chacals and all the rest.
xznofile
not rated yet Jan 26, 2011
They could also have hunted like Australian Goannas, where they stalk an animal and maneuver it into some sort of cul de sac such as a river bend or even a prepared false escape hole (trap). their acute nose would allow them to focus on an individual in the herd and not waste energy on scattered similar animals. Another strategy might have been like sharks and whales that herd schools of prey into a small area, then stun them w/ their tails. hard to prove though.

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