Washington: In a surprising find, palaeontologists from the United States and Canada revealed that Tyrannosaurus rex, the most feared carnivore amongst dinosaurs, hunted its own species too sometimes.
Yale researcher Nick Longrich discovered especially large gouges in some dinosaur fossils. Given the age and location of the fossil, the marks had to be made by T. rex, Longrich said.
"They’re the kind of marks that any big carnivore could have made, but T. rex was the only big carnivore in western North America 65 million years ago," Longrich said.
It was only after discovering the bite marks were from a T. rex that Longrich realized the bone itself also belonged to the behemoth.
Later he discovered a total of three foot bones (including two toes) and one arm bone that showed evidence of T. rex cannibalism, representing a significant percentage.
However, scientists aren’t sure yet whether the marks are a result of scavengers or fighting.
Longrich said, adding that if two T. rex fought to the death, the victor might have made a meal out of his adversary.
"Modern big carnivores do this all the time. It’s a convenient way to take out the competition and get a bit of food at the same time," he said.
"These animals were some of the largest terrestrial carnivores of all time, and the way they approached eating was fundamentally different from modern species," Longrich added.
The study is published online Oct. 15 in the journal PLoS ONE.
First Published: Sunday, October 17, 2010, 09:18