What did Tyrannosaurus eat?

Whatever the hell it wanted. A few years ago, though, there were plenty of shows that played up the debate over whether the famous dinosaur was a scavenger or a predator, and below is one such program. Called "T-rex: Warrior or Wimp?" the show is full of dramatic music cues and interviews with paleontologists like Peter Larson, Ken Carpenter, Chris Brochu, Jack Horner, and others. (A few months ago Horner answered a few questions about his work, which you can see here. For a good, critical look at the scavenging vs. hunting debate, though, see Thomas Holtz's contribution to the new Tyrannosaurus: The Tyrant King volume.);











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T-rex predated people!

[With apologies to Aydin �rstan]

I thought Ken Ham settled this one. When he wasn't giving piggy-back rides to baby Jesus, T Rex used his big teeth to open coconuts and share them with unicorns.

I don't get why a chewed up bone suggests that T. Rex was scavenging in that particular case at all unless they have the rest of the carcass somewhere and it doesn't have any Rex-sized bite marks on it?

I love Dr. Holtz's SMACKDOWN of the scavenger only hypothesis in that book. It's one of the best examples of peer-reviewed OWNAGE that I've ever seen. It is entertaining for its informational value AND the fact that Dr. Holtz punches Horner's "theory" squarely in the jaw, then tramples on it with a herd of elephants.

The elephants, being elephants, leave their leavings behind to further embarass and destroy the "obligate scavenger" notion. I was, and continue to be, pleased.

There are no endotermic terrestrial obligate scavengers. All the endothermic obligate scavengers in terrestrial ecosystems are soaring birds. A non-flying endotermic obligate terrestrial scavenger - perhaps even a non-soaring flyer - will starve to dead. The math has been done. To quote David Marjanovic: There is no science without math, and the worst math is no math at all.

BTW, an Maastrichtian NA terrestrial ecosystem with an obligatory scavenging T-rex would be patently absurd: elephant-sized ceratopsian and hadrosaurid herbivores, but the biggest endothermic predators are 15kg dromaeosaurs, stagodontids and nanocurids. I don't think this is workable (except, perhaps, with the interference of a sentient species that herds giant herbivores for meat and destroys all the competing predators ;-)).

Neither warrior or wimp, it's a huge frakking meat eating animal. Only humans give value to hunting. T-rex probably hunted it's food (to eat not for a trophy), also probably wrestled it away from smaller predators, also might have eaten some poor creature with a broken leg that fell down a cliff or left-overs from another predators' kill (yes scavenge). If a large animal can both eat & conserve it's energy it will. A hard hunt or easy pickings it doesn't matter to an animal.

Man, the people who made that special REALLY don't like scavengers, do they? Isn't that what we basically have become? How many modern-day meat-eating humans hunt for their own food?

Some people still continue to beat a very dead horse. The skeleton of an Edmontosaurus, with tail vertebrae that had been bitten off but healed and grew back (the spaces in between fitting T-rex teeth perfectly) should have ended the debate, because the animal was alive when it was attacked! And as Johannes above points out, there are no large, terrestrial animals in today's ecosystem that make their living solely as scavengers; vultures can do it only because they can soar for miles with very little energy expenditure. As well as being infeasible ecologically, Mr. Horner's "T-rex was a giant Cretaceous vulture" campaign is disrespectful to the big guy, and I don't think T-rex would appreciate it!

By Raymond Minton (not verified) on 26 Feb 2009 #permalink

uh uh uh uh

you idot i said what a t-rex eat not rubbish