Best known for its role in the Hollywood movie 'Jurassic Park' as the big bad villain, the Tyrannosaurus Rex dinosaur, better known as T. Rex, is the most identified dinosaur in popular culture. Actually the name says it all, tyrannosaurus meaning 'tyrant lizard', were one of the most ferocious creatures to have ever walked the planet.
A fierce predator, the T. Rex was one of the largest carnivores of its time. It was in 1902 that the first specimen of the tyrannosaurs fossils were discovered by Barnum Brown in western USA. Since then, about two dozen well-preserved specimens of these animals have been dug up, which seems to be abound in the North American fossil beds.
Anatomy of the Tyrannosaurus Rex Dinosaur
The Tyrannosaurus Rex fossils indicate a large theropod dinosaur which was about 40 feet long and nearly 15 to 20 feet tall. Its massive head, measuring around 5 feet was supported by a short and muscular, 'S'-shaped neck.
The forelimbs were short with two clawed fingers and were just 3 feet long. In contrast, the hind limbs of the tyrannosaurus were huge. The massive tail of the T. Rex was long and heavy in order to support the massive torso. The mouth was lined with six-inch long sharp, serrated teeth that varied in size.
Although long believed to be 'cold blooded' or having ectothermic reptilian metabolism, the idea has been challenged by certain researchers. It is also believed that the early dinosaurs may have had protofeathers which were lost in the evolution process in the warm cretaceous climate. Most of the specimen samples indicate a scaly, lightly pebbled skin.
Initially, tyrannosaurus were believed to be a part of the carnosauria family which comprised the biggest carnivorous animals on earth. However, later research has pointed out that these dinosaurs belonged to a specialized group consisting of smaller animals known as the 'coelurosaurs'.
Over the years, scientists have found out that the speed of these dinosaurs is indeed a myth! Although these animals were fast as compared to other theropods, they could hardly move faster than the speeds of 10-12 mph with their huge legs. Thus an agile faster prey could probably outrun them.
This fact has also led to the debate as to whether these dinosaurs were scavengers or predators. Jack Horner of the 'Museum of Rockies' argues that the Tyrannosaurus Rex with its small eyes, small forelimbs, and large hind legs were not suitable predators.
Also in favor of the scavenger theory is the evidence of strong olfactory lobes in the T. Rex and legs that were built for long distances which are characteristics, displayed by all scavenger animals and birds.
The Tyrannosaurus Rex dinosaur has fascinated people for a long time. From movies to merchandise like video games and toys, the T. Rex remains the biggest and the baddest dinosaur for one and all.