Tooth Be Told: T. Rex Was Hunter
Finding may wipe out theory it was scavenger
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Jul 16, 2013 10:10 AM CDT
Researchers Robert A. DePalma II, left, and David A. Burnham show a Tyrannosaurus rex tooth crown embedded between the vertebrae of a hadrosaur and surrounded by bone overgrowth.   (AP Photo/David A. Burnham)

(Newser) – Lately, scientists have suggested that Tyrannosaurus rex wasn't the vicious hunter from the movies—instead, with its slower speeds and weak eyesight, it was a scavenger, they argue. But a new finding offers clear evidence against that rather disappointing theory. Researchers have discovered a T. rex tooth lodged in the spine of another dinosaur—whose tailbone had healed, indicating the T. rex attacked a live, not dead, creature, the Wall Street Journal reports. "It's not just a smoking gun—we've actually found the bullet," says the paleontologist who co-authored the study, per National Geographic.

The Florida-based paleontologist who made the discovery in the spine found in Montana says "as soon as I could see that tooth lodged in the side, I knew it was an extremely significant piece," he says. That was confirmed via a microscopic inspection of the 1.5-inch-long tooth's serrations. "We were able to conclusively identify the tooth as coming from a Tyrannosaurus rex and no other dinosaur." The four-ton victim was a hadrosaur, a plant-eater that lived in what's now the American West. But some scientists say the tooth isn't quite proof: "It's one data point, and that's the least amount of data you can have," notes one.

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Showing 3 of 32 comments
Jul 17, 2013 8:17 AM CDT
I once saw a bear on one of the cable channels track a morsel of fresh chicken 7 miles. and they said it would be further if the meat had been decaying
Jul 16, 2013 8:56 PM CDT
Ridiculous! How could those clowns have ever even doubted? i'm a paleontologist, and i've been saying for decades... There is already enough IRREFUTABLE proof that the T rex was indeed a hunter, not a scavenger! Sure, if an animal sees a free easy meal, he'll grab it. But a "pure" scavenger would not have HOOKS for teeth and such massive thigh bones (for powerful leg muscles) which allowed them to outrun and overtake prey. They keep focusing on the "weak eyes" theory. But consider today's Grizzly. He has weak eyes too and yet is a supreme hunter. How? But sense of SMELL!
Jul 16, 2013 11:48 AM CDT
T. Rex could still have been both a hunter and scavenger. This only proves that yes, it hunted. It doesn't mean it didn't also scavenge dead animals and take over kill sites.