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T-Rex Was A Cannibal: Bone Fragments, Other Evidences Prove Predatory Dinosaur Ate Its Kind

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Tyrannosaurus rex (T-rex) species have long been extinct, yet they continue to amaze scientists with their interesting features as per fossil analysis. In a new study about the dinosaurs, researchers discovered that T-rexes could have possibly fed on each other.

The fossils, unearthed from a late Cretaceous rock development called Lance Formation in the U.S. state of Wyoming, were found to have significantly deep grooves and obvious teeth marks.

As per analysis of the fossils, the teeth depth and shape of the predator that ate the flesh off the bone was a huge animal. The main indicator that led the experts to think that T-rex may be that animal was the smaller grooves observed, suggesting that the teeth of the predator had ragged edges.

In the past, scientists have already suggested that T-rex was a cannibal.

Among the earlier studies that linked T-rex to cannibalism was a 2007 research, wherein the authors estimated that the neck muscles of T-rex were mighty enough to throw a bolus of food weighing 110 pounds, 15 feet into the air and successfully catch it. The discovery, called inertial feeding, involved stripping the flesh off the bones directly without smashing it first. The dinosaur can neither eat via its hand and mouth nor could it chew, so it swallowed its prey whole using its powerful neck muscles.

In 2010, researchers studied Tarbosaurus, which is a close relative of T-rex. In their study, they reported how Tarbosaurus gently disintegrated a hadrosaur carcass. The animal did not smash the carcass into small pieces, it purposely utilized its jaws to strip the muscles off, supporting the 2007 study on inertial feeding.

In 2012, a study investigated on the bite forces that prehistoric predators possessed. The authors estimated that the biting force of an adult T-rex can reach up to 57,000 newtons (12,800 pounds).

Fecal fossils reach by up to 1.5 feet and approximately one-third of its mass is composed of broken bone shards. The scat suggested that T-rex had a fairly quick metabolism and short duration of digestion. Such theory is also backed up by another older coprolite most probably left by another tyrannosaur species that had bone debris and traces of undigested muscle.

What is clearly known is that T-rex ate habitually to thrive. Through the studies that investigated the details of the dinosaurs' eating patterns, people of today may have a clearer view of the potentially bloody eating times of the T-rex species.

The recent study in Wyoming was presented at the 2015 Geological Society of America Annual Meeting.

Photo: Scott Kinmartin | Flickr

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