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T. rex's Predatory Nature Revealed

Surprising find

fossil remnant of a hadrosaur bone

(Image credit: Rudolph Frank Pascucci)

Paleontologist Robert DePalma and his colleagues recently unearthed vertebrae from a hadrosaur with a T. rex tooth buried in it.

Deadly predator

t. rex attacking edmontosaurus

(Image credit: Robert DePalma)

The findings reveal what every dinosaur lover always suspected: that T. rex was a fearsome predator, not just a scavenger.

Possible scavenger?

dino, dinosaur, dinosaurs, dinosaur colors, birds, reptiles, prehistoric, skin

(Image credit: AMNH/J. Brougham)

Past studies had suggested that T. rex had a strong bite, and stomach contents showed the giant was a carnivore. But because T. rex may have had a good sense of smell, some paleontologists argued the king of the dinosaurs wasn't a predator, but a scavenger. That keen nose could theoretically have been used to sniff out rotting carcasses.

Herbivorous creature

an edmontosaurus reconstruction

(Image credit: Leonello Calvetti | Shutterstock.com)

DePalma and his colleagues were excavating in the Hell's Creek formation in South Dakota when they uncovered part of the spine of a hadrosaur, likely the pine-needle-eating herbivore Edmontosaurus. Lodged inside the vertebrae was a T. rex tooth.

Narrow escape

a T. rex tooth found lodged into the spine of edmontosaurus

(Image credit: Fallon Cohen)

The bone healed around the tooth, suggesting that the hadrosaur lived for a while after the attack.

Deadly predator

Fossil remains of a dinosaur spine with a T. rex tooth lodged iinside

(Image credit: Fallon Cohen)

The new discovery completes the picture of T. rex as a deadly predator.

Tia Ghose
Tia has interned at Science News, Wired.com, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and has written for the Center for Investigative Reporting, Scientific American, and ScienceNow. She has a master's degree in bioengineering from the University of Washington and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California Santa Cruz.