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Tyrannosaurus rex is arguably one of the most famous dinosaurs, but new discoveries have continually changed our understanding of these giant prehistoric creatures.
For example, new research from a team of paleontologists at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa, Ontario, shows that we have underestimated the size of T. rex since its discovery. in 1902.
Follow Live Sciencethe group presented their findings at an annual conference organized by the Society for Vertebrate Paleontology on November 5, where they told attendees that they estimated T. rex to have may be nearly 70% larger than previously thought.
The largest known specimen of T. rex, nicknamed “Scotty,” weighed just under 20,000 pounds when it was alive, but the study’s authors say other T. rex species have can weigh up to 33,000 pounds (15 tons). And at this size, it actually weighs more than two African prairie elephants combined.
Study co-author Jordan Mallon told Live Science that he and his team came to this conclusion by examining the fossil record, estimating that about 2.5 billion T. rex dinosaurs once roamed the Earth.
Of those 2.5 billion fossils, only 32 mature fossils have ever been discovered, meaning that the researchers’ knowledge of dinosaurs was compiled based on extremely limited fossil information.
It is possible – and very likely, Mallon and co-author David Hone have found – that these undiscovered T. rex are a little larger than the fraction the researchers found. Mallon and Hone looked at the population numbers and average lifespan of this species to create a model of what might be the largest T. rex.
Mallon said:We started building two models – one with no dimorphism and one with strong dimorphism. These dimorphisms explain the size difference between the sexes.
“If T. rex were dimorphic, we estimate that it would weigh up to 53,000 pounds – 24 tons‘, Mallon continued, ‘but we reject that model because if that was true, we would now have found fossils of individuals even larger than what has been discovered“.
Based on this data, they were able to model the growth curve for T. rex and estimate the largest possible size in an adult. However, they did offer a reminder that until a fossil is found that can back up their estimate, this conclusion remains speculative.
Thomas Carr, a vertebrate paleontologist from the University of Carthage in Wisconsin said:This reminds us that what we know about dinosaurs is not much, because the sample size is so small. Carr was not involved in the new study, but he did attend the conference and agreed that T. rex is likely much larger than previously thought..
He said: “It is truly a wonderful animal. To imagine a T. rex of this size is extraordinary and I think an animal of this size is statistically achievable.“.
Indeed, many researchers still do not fully understand T. rex and their understanding of it changes on a daily basis. In fact, earlier this year, Daily Mail reported, some researchers have suggested that T. rex actually has many distinct subspecies, including T. regina and T. imperator.
This idea has been largely rejected by other scientists, but it is another example of the ever-changing nature of paleontology.
Other misconceptions about T. rex have also been questioned in recent years, such as the notion that the dinosaur’s long legs helped it run fast to chase prey. As it turns out, those long legs are used for long periods of time for walking and stalking – not sprinting.
Mallon said on Twitter that he and Hone are still working on their final draft, but he feels that the 33,000-pound (15-ton) model is “mechanically viable.”
The goal of paleontologists at the Canadian Museum of Nature was to estimate the average size of a living Tyrannosaurus rex by building models that show its growth curve as it grew. grow old. This involved a more detailed look than previous estimates, calculated using only the size of the existing bones and what we understood about the dinosaur king at the time. If true, the growth curve estimates put Scotty’s actual weight 70% higher than previous estimates.
According to study co-author Mallon, it is important to note that not enough specimens have been discovered to say with certainty what the average size of T. rex would be: “This is simply a thought experiment with some numbers behind it. It’s interesting to think about it“. This study serves as a reminder that our knowledge of prehistoric organisms is very limited, however new discoveries can lead to new analyses.
Source: Grunge; Allthatsinteresting; Live Science
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