Tyrannosaurus Rex was a cannibal

Tyrannosaurus Rex was one of the largest terrestrial carnivores of all time and had few few enemies.

Last Updated: Nov 04, 2010, 10:21 AM IST

New Haven: Tyrannosaurus Rex was one of the largest terrestrial carnivores of all time and had few few enemies.

However, a new study by American and Canadian scientists showing large gouges in T. Rex bones suggests it might have had reason to fear attacks from its own kind.

A report by palaeontologist Nick Longrich of Yale University in the journal Plos ONE claims that the examination of museum collections has revealed four specimens of T. Rex that bear toothmarks made by large, carnivorous dinosaurs.

When the fossils were deposited 65 million years ago, T. Rex was the only North American carnivore capable of making such marks, providing apparent evidence of cannibalism.

"Subsequently, more dinosaur specimens have been found to bear Tyrannosaurus toothmarks, of which three are from Tyrannosaurus. We show that these specimens provide direct evidence of cannibalism in Tyrannosaurus," explained Longrich. "It`s surprising how often this must have happened."

Longrich has ruled out the possibility that the bitemarks were as a result of fights between dinosaurs over territory, noting that the cannibalistic bitemarks appear to have been made some time after death.

"Today`s large cannibals do this on a regular basis," revealed Longrich. "It`s an easy way to protect territory and at the same time to get some food."

Bureau Report