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Context UsefulNotes / TyrannosaurusRex

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1%% Image selected per Image Pickin' thread:²%% Please do not replace or remove without starting a new thread.²%%²[[quoteright:350:]]²[[caption-width-right:350:"Sue" on display at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Illinois. Photographed by [[ Evolutionnumber9]] and licensed under [[ CC BY-SA 4.0]].]]²There's no doubt that ''Tyrannosaurus rex'' is, by far, the most famous of the StockDinosaurs, seen as [[KingOfTheDinosaurs both the most majestic and most terrifying of them]]. However, there are lots of common misconceptions about the animal, which we attempt to clear up here.²²* '''Name:''' Whereas most dinosaurs are known outside paleontological circles only by their genus, ''T. rex'' is known by their full binomium. ''Tyrannosaurus'', the genus name, comes from the Greek ''tyrannos'', meaning "tyrant", and ''sauros'', meaning "lizard". ''Rex'', the specific name, meanwhile, is Latin for "king", therefore the whole name translates to "tyrant lizard king". As per the rules of binomial nomenclature, the genus name should be spelled with a capital T, whereas the species name should be spelled with a lowercase r. And the correct abbreviation of the name is ''T. rex'', not ''T-rex'' and especially not ''T-Rex''. The word "tyrannosaur" refers to any member of the family Tyrannosauridae, which, beside ''T. rex'', also includes ''Tarbosaurus'' (once sometimes considered the Asian ''Tyrannosaurus'' species), ''Albertosaurus'', ''Gorgosaurus'', ''Yutyrannus'' and many more. Early fossils were described under the names ''Dynamosaurus imperiosus'' and ''Manospondylus gigas'' - both of them are now considered invalid synonyms. A number of other names have also become invalid synonyms of ''Tyrannosaurus'' over the years, including ''Nanotyrannus'', ''Stygivenator'' and ''Alamotyrannus''. ²* '''Discovery:''' The first ''T. rex'' fossils were found in the late 1800s and were believed to belong to a giant ornithomimid or a ceratopsid. The species was officially described by Henry Farfield Osborn in 1905, based a partial skeleton consisting of 34 bones, found by curator Barnum Brown in Hell Creek, Montana. Osborn described another fossil of a large carnivore, found in Wyoming, as ''Dynamosaurus imperiosus'', but then realized that the two belonged to the same species. The most complete ''T. rex'' skeletons were found [[UsefulNotes/PrehistoricLifeDinosaurs in 1990 and 1992]], and were dubbed as "Sue" and "Stan". These two fossils helped us get a much more accurate image of what the species was like.²* '''Time period:''' ''T. rex'' lived at the very end of the Cretaceous period, 68-66 million years ago (also known as the Maastrichtian age). It was among the few dinosaurs that was still around when the famous asteroid collision ended the Mesozoic era (others included ''Triceratops'', ''Ankylosaurus'' and ''Edmontosaurus''). Any depiction of ''T. rex'' earlier than that is, therefore, inaccurate.²* '''Range:''' ''T. rex'' was an exclusively North American species. During the Late Cretaceous, North America was divided to two smaller continents by a shallow sea named the Western Interior Seaway; ''T. rex'' lived on the Western continent, dubbed Laramidia. It was found throughout Laramidia, ranging from Alberta in the north to Texas and New Mexico in the south. A closely related species, the aforementioned but smaller ''Tarbosaurus bataar'', lived in East Asia at the same time.²* '''Size:''' ''T. rex'' was famous for being one of the largest carnivorous dinosaurs. The "Sue" skeleton is 12.3 to 12.8 m long (the inaccuracy comes from a few missing vertebrae), about 4 m tall at the hip, and is estimated to weigh 8.4 to 14 metric tons (for comparison, that's 2 to 3 times the weight of an African bush elephant). It was also much bulkier in real life than the athletic, "cut"[[note]]With lots of muscle striations showing[[/note]] manner in which fiction tends to depict it.²* '''Posture:''' Early restorations depicted ''T. rex'' in a kangaroo-like tripod posture, dragging its long tail on the ground. However, thanks to more complete skeletons, now we know that it held its body horizontally, balancing its body with its tail.²* '''Big head:''' ''T. rex'' had a massive head even in comparison to other carnivorous dinosaurs. Its mouth was full of sharp teeth, up to 20 cm (8 inches) long, sometimes dubbed "killer bananas" because of their size and shape. Its bite force is estimated to be about 8,000 pounds, stronger than any other known land animal, which it needed to crush the bones of the large dinosaurs it ate.²* '''Puny arm:''' One of the most iconic, and most ridiculed, traits of ''T. rex'' is its tiny arm. It was two-fingered, with sharp claws on them, and its palms faced inward (rather than downward, as it's often erroneously depicted). The reason for the arms's small size is mainly practicality; large arms would have gotten in the way of the Tyrannosaurus's bite, which is theorized to have been the most powerful bite of all dinosaurs, hence the need to have small arms where other predators would have clawing weapons. Additionally, in spite of their size the arm bones show signs of large muscle attachment and thus, they were very strong and capable of lifting 200 pounds (90 kilograms). Because of this, T. rex might have used them to hold onto struggling prey while it dispatched it with its jaws. In addition, they could have also been used to help lift the T. rex from a sleeping position when it was waking up.²* '''Hunter or scavenger:''' Though the ''T. rex'' is typically portrayed as a hunter in media, there was an infamous debate among paleontologists as to whether or not ''T. rex'' was actually a scavenger instead, popularized by paleontologist and ''Film/JurassicPark'' dinosaur consultant Jack Horner. While the idea of a large, bulky carnivore solely surviving on rotting carrion is just too ridiculous to be taken seriously (due to the amount of food needed to sustain its massive size), it is theorized that large, adult ''Tyrannosaurus'' would hunt less and basically KillSteal the hunts of other carnivores and younger ''T. rex''; the highly advanced olfactory sense of the creature allowed it to sniff out carrion from miles away, and a roar would have ''definitely'' helped scare off smaller dinosaurs from a kill. Due to an adult's size and strength, however, it's also very possible that it simply fought animals like ''[[TemperCeratops Triceratops]]'' or ''[[ToughArmoredDinosaur Ankylosaurus]]'' and won[[note]]Though recent evidence suggests that they sometimes [[BadassCrew hunted in packs]][[/note]], whereas younger, smaller ''Tyrannosaurus'' hunted [[SocialOrnithopod hadrosaurs]] [[note]]Duck-billed dinosaurs who were once theorized to have lived by rivers and ran when confronted[[/note]] the old fashioned way. Even in that case, a roar could've been helpful; even the most active predators are unlikely to ''pass up'' the opportunity to steal a free meal if they can, and a ''Tyrannosaurus'' might well have needed to threaten off other dinos (including other ''Tyrannosaurus'') while eating.²* '''Feathers or scales:''' Historically, ''T. rex'' was portrayed with lizard- or crocodile-like scaly skin. However, as many dinosaur species were discovered to be covered in feathers, including another tyrannosaur, ''Yutyrannus'', it was suggested that ''T. rex'' could also have been feathered, basically looking like a giant toothy bird. However, fossilized skin impressions of ''T. rex'' and other, closely related tyrannosaurs show that most of its body was, indeed, scaly; the only place that was potentially feathered is its back. As ''T. rex'' was a large animal living in warm climate, it likely did not need the extra insulation from feathers, just as similarly-sized mammals like rhinoceroses and elephants are sparsely haired. However, some still speculate that it had downy feathers as a hatchling, when it was still small enough to need insulation, and eventually lost these as it reached a certain age and size.²* '''Sound:''' ''T. rex'' is typically depicted in media with a MightyRoar; ever since ''Film/JurassicPark'', everyone knows what that roar sounded like. However, there is actually little evidence that ''T. rex'' could roar; it is speculated to have produced low-pitched, rumbling or bellowing sounds, similar to crocodilians (which would've still sounded pretty damned impressive, but possibly a bit underwhelming for those used to the movies).²* '''Senses:''' ''T. rex'' had extraordinary senses of smell and hearing. Analysis of the braincase in fossilized skulls shows that it had large olfactory bulbs and a long cochlear duct capable of receiving low-frequency sounds. These traits would have been advantageous both as a predator (hunting prey) and as a scavenger (finding carrion from a great distance or detecting approaching rivals). However, contrary to what [[Film/JurassicPark Steven Spielberg]] and [[Literature/JurassicPark Michael Crichton]] would have you believe, ''T. rex'' also had excellent eyesight that would've let the creature spot objects from as far as six kilometres with thirteen times the detail. It had large eyes facing forward connecting to big optical lobes, and a relatively narrow snout, allowing for binocular vision. This ability supports the idea that ''T. rex'' was a hunter, as binocular vision is beneficial when chasing prey.


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