Bitten by hungry T. rex, this dinosaur got away
by Malcolm Ritter, AP Science Writer
July 15, 2013 03:45 PM | 653 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In this photo made available by David A. Burnham via the National Academy of Sciences, 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. That regrowth shows the duckbill was alive and not just a carcass when it met the T. rex, so the fossil provides definitive evidence that T. rex hunted live animals, researchers say in the Monday, July 15, 2013, issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. (AP Photo/David A. Burnham)
In this photo made available by David A. Burnham via the National Academy of Sciences, 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. That regrowth shows the duckbill was alive and not just a carcass when it met the T. rex, so the fossil provides definitive evidence that T. rex hunted live animals, researchers say in the Monday, July 15, 2013, issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. (AP Photo/David A. Burnham)
slideshow
This Thursday, April 28, 2011 file photo shows a Tyrannosaurus rex dinosaur replica at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. Scientists have unearthed a dramatic remnant of an encounter between a Tyrannosaurus rex and a creature that got away, providing strong new evidence that the famous dinosaur hunted for food. Results were published in the Monday, July 15, 2013, issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
This Thursday, April 28, 2011 file photo shows a Tyrannosaurus rex dinosaur replica at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. Scientists have unearthed a dramatic remnant of an encounter between a Tyrannosaurus rex and a creature that got away, providing strong new evidence that the famous dinosaur hunted for food. Results were published in the Monday, July 15, 2013, issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
slideshow
NEW YORK (AP) — The fearsome bite of a hungry Tyrannosaurus rex left behind new evidence that the famous beast hunted for food and wasn't just a scavenger.

Researchers found a part of a T. rex tooth wedged between two tailbones of a duckbill dinosaur unearthed in northwestern South Dakota. The tooth was partially enclosed by regrown bone, indicating the smaller duckbill had escaped from the T. rex and lived for months or years afterward.

Since the duckbill was alive and not just a carcass when it met the T. rex, the fossil provides definitive evidence that T. rex hunted live animals, researchers say in Monday's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The fossil, from around 67 million years ago, indicates the T. rex bit the duckbill from behind and "intended to take it for a meal," said David Burnham of the University of Kansas, an author of the report.

It's not clear whether there was a chase involved, he said.

Experts who didn't participate in the study said there was already ample evidence that T. rex went after live animals as well as scavenging carcasses. It brought a bone-shattering bite and teeth up to a foot long to each task.

The new fossil is the first to include a T. rex tooth embedded in the bones of its prey, giving "extremely strong physical evidence that the attacker was a tyrannosaur," said Thomas Holtz, Jr., of the University of Maryland.

"It's one other bit of evidence (for hunting) fully consistent with the other data already established from lots and lots of lines of evidence," Holtz said.

You might think a T. rex would take down anything in sight, but Jack Horner of Montana State University said it apparently preyed on the weak, the sick and the young instead.

It makes sense that T. rex also scavenged, said Kenneth Carpenter, curator of paleontology at the Utah State University East Prehistoric Museum.

"If there's a free meal, why not?" he asked. But decay can make carcasses toxic after a while, he said, and "at that point, T. rex is going to have no choice but to hunt."

___

Online:

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: http://www.pnas.org

___

Malcolm Ritter can be followed at http://www.twitter.com/malcolmritter



Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

Comments
(0)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
No Comments Yet
*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, spam, and links to outside websites will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides