In a study published in PLoS ONE this week, palentologists discuss a different type of T. rex feeding habit. During a study of Maastrichtian (latest age of the Late Cretaceous) dinosaurs one of the researchers found a large theropod pedal phalanx (foot/toe bones) that had tooth marks on it that were made by a large carnivorous dinosaur. Considering the geographic region (North America) and the time period, T. rex was the only large carnivore known and so a very likely candidate for inflicting the bone damage. They examined this bone as well as other dinosaur specimens. They found a total of 17 specimens bearing tooth marks made by Tyrannosaurus. The deep U- and V-shaped gouges and shallower scores resemble those found on the pelvis of a Triceratops, and closely resemble the furrowed ‘puncture and pull’ traces that have previously been attributed to T. rex. Four of the examined specimens represent Tyrannosaurus. That's right, we're talking cannabalistic Tyrannosaurus rex!
|Figure 2. Tyrannosaurus rex bones bearing|
tooth marks made by Tyrannosaurus rex.
Put this together and it gives more evidence to the hypothesis that Tyrannosaurus was an indiscriminate, opportunistic feeder. It didn't just go for herbivorous dinosaurs but also other Tyrannosaurs. The bone marks found in this study were probably the result of scavenging. However, you can't rule out that the Tyrannosaur killed its prey and fed on it over a long period of time.
Cannibalistic Tyrannosaurs, whew, that's a visual right? But, if you think about it, cannibalism isn't all that uncommon in nature. I mean, its been seen in bears, alligators, hyenas, etc. So it seems a good arguement for T. rex as well.
Read more in the paper (its free access):
Longrich Nicholas R., Horner John R, Erickson Gregory M., and Currie Philip J. (2010) Cannibalism in Tyrannosaurus rex. PLoS ONE: 5(10), e13419. (DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0013419)