Quick! When you think about a Tyrannosaurus rex, what comes to mind? Gaping jaws, jagged teeth, and the ability to run you down for a speedy snack.
Well, some of them were predatory like that—certainly they were kings of the dinosaur world—but scientists are saying that many in the tyrannosaur class, including juvenile tyrannosaurus rexes and velociraptor, got by by scavenging. Scientists from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, used such unusual tools as “Sims”-like computer games to gauge how often the dinos went after their prey or ate the carcass of a previous kill.
Rather than being like the fierce, voracious dinosaurs in “Jurassic Park,” the new research shows that many of the tyrannosaur class were more like scaly, featured hyenas. Irish and Scottish researchers have shown that scavenging would have been a rewarding strategy for carnivorous dinosaurs.
Lots of today’s predators rely on scavenging to supplement their caught dinners. Lions scavenge nearly 50% of their food in some populations.
The scientists say that direct hunting uses up vast amounts of energy and scavenging is nearly food for free. Dino’s who mostly scavenged were dilophosaurus and Utahraptor.
“In effect, these species occupied a Goldilocks zone,” Dr. Kevin Healy of Trinity’s School of Natural Sciences told
EurekaAlert, a science website. “They were big enough to search large areas in order to find carcasses and defend them, but not so large that simply moving became too energetically costly.”
But the scientists agree that the dinosaurs could not have lived by scavenging alone. “Practically all species (ing this class) would have likely shown predatory behavior,” Healy said.
So, it’s still not safe, if they clone a t-rex, to go near it for a pet.