Paleo Profile: Tyrannosaurus rex, a Fluffy Superpredator with Fantastic Vision

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Illustration of the tyrannosaurid Tyrannosaurus rex with minimal feathers based on phylogenetic bracketing. Author: Durbed

Howdy there, how are you doing on this fine day? Good, I hope. I for one am doing great. I’m starting a new series! Welcome to Paleo Profile, where I’m going to write about some prehistoric animals and make the case for why they are super cool. I’m Hudson, your friendly neighborhood dinosaur nerd and thank you for taking the time to read this. I thought I would start off with a bang so we are going to take a look at the most badass predator of all time: Tyrannosaurus rex (or T. rex)!

Tyrannosaurus is, without a doubt, the most iconic dinosaur of all time. Known all over the world and one of the few dinosaur names people actually know how to pronounce, Tyrannosaurus has captured the imagination of the world. Seriously, I’m willing to bet all my scholarships that if I talked to three random people on the street and asked them what their favorite dinosaur is, at least one of them will say the T. rex. And I don’t blame them, Tyrannosaurus is awesome! 

Tyrannosaurus is one of the few animals that is worthy of the term “super predator.” I get chills when I think about the adaptations and the arsenal it had. It was far more of a force to be reckoned with in real life than its big-screen appearances in “Jurassic Park.” The real Tyrannosaurus is, in my humble opinion, the most badass predator of all time. Hopefully after this, you will agree with me.

 For one thing, Tyrannosaurus was extremely intelligent. They had an EQ level of around 2.0 to 2.4, which is similar to orca intelligence. With humans, big brains have come at the sacrifice of some other senses, but with Tyrannosaurus, those senses were only enhanced.

Tyrannosaurus also had a killer sense of smell, being able to smell prey from miles away.  And despite what “Jurassic Park” may say, I beg you, don’t stand still if a Tyrannosaurus tries to eat you. It had keen binocular vision. In fact, Tyrannosaurus not only had the biggest eyes of any terrestrial animal, it had the best eyesight. It could see you from over seven football fields away. To quote paleontologist David Hone in a lecture he gave on Tyrannosaurus Rex, “This is not something that can’t see you if you don’t move, this has got the greatest eyesight of any animal on land ever.” 

But the most terrifying of Tyrannosaurus’ weapons would have to be its mouth. Equipped with 60 banana sized teeth, Tyrannosaurus had a bone-crunching bite. Much like the dude in the “I ate the bones!” KFC commercial, Tyrannosaurus swallowed meat, bones and all. Many T. rex coprolites, fossilized turds, contain bone from other dinosaurus. They had a bite force of 3,300 pounds per square inch, which is over a ton-and-a-half of pressure per square inch! 

To top all this, Tyrannosaurus likely didn’t go it alone. It is likely that they hunted in family groups. If you ask me, there would be nothing more terrifying than being trapped in the woods, with a group of these apex predators chasing you at the speed of Usain Bolt. 

Another difference from the movies — there is a high chance that Tyrannosaurus had feathers, given the fact that many of its close relatives and ancestors were feathered. So not to kill your childhood memories, but Tyrannosaurus was likely a fluffy killer. 

So with that, I think you have a detailed view of Tyrannosaurus. Of course, with new discoveries being made all the time, we are learning something new, but I hope that you have enjoyed this modern view of the Tyrant Lizard King. Take it easy, I hope the rest of your day is dino-mite!