Skip to main content

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 |

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,, 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.