Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Hollywood nails it -- T. rex was a villain

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NEW YORK -- Hollywood movies got it right. Tyrannosaurus rex hunted down and killed its prey, according to new evidence that disproves long-debated theories the dinosaur only scavenged from carcasses.

A recent discovery of a T. rex tooth lodged in the spine of a smaller plant-eating dinosaur provides "unambiguous evidence that the T. rex was an active predator," according to a report published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. David Burnham, a lead researcher from the division of vertebrate paleontology at the University of Kansas, calls the finding "the holy grail" of paleontology.

"It sends a chill down your spine, that T. rex was the monster in Jurassic Park that would hunt you down and kill you." Burnham said.

The 40-foot-long animal weighing about seven tons has often been portrayed as the terrifying villain of dinosaur epics. Until the findings released this week, there was no scientific proof.

Some scientists have argued T. rex was too slow to capture prey and had physical characteristics of a scavenger of dead animals rather than hunter of live prey.

But in this case, one hadrosaur, a 35-foot-long plant-eating dinosaur, escaped to tell the tale 65 million years later of its attacker. Parts of its skeleton were found in South Dakota. When they scanned its fused vertebrae, scientists discovered an embedded crown tooth inside the old wound.

"We have the bullet and the smoking gun," Burnham said. He says this discovery returns T. rex to the top of the paleolithic food chain.

 

-- Bloomberg News

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 20, 2013 D4

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Updated on Saturday, July 20, 2013 at 4:53 PM CDT: Corrects typo in headline.

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