JAN 05, 2020 7:58 AM PST

Scientists Shed Light on 'Teenaged' T. Rex

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

If you were to ask a bunch of random people off the street to begin naming dinosaurs, then the infamous Tyrannosaurus rex would likely reside at the top of most people’s lists. It seems like almost everyone knows about the existence of T. rex, but just how much do we actually know about the late predacious monster?

Do we now know what juvenile T. rex looked like?

Image Credit: Pixabay

Albeit well documented in museums and portrayed as a ruthless predator in popular Hollywood films like Jurassic Park, more of T. rex’s truths are gradually being uncovered by modern science than we ever could have imagined. Perhaps one of the most prominent examples of such is the revelation that many dinosaurs, perhaps including T. rex, sported colorful and fluffy plumages.

Despite what we know, there are still many questions about T. rex that remain unanswered. One of the most pressing of those involves the developmental stages of T. rex during and throughout its early life stages. Most established T. rex fossils depict the dinosaur after it is fully grown, but we still know very little about what T. rex looked like as an adolescent.  

Fortunately, scientists could be one step closer to answering that question. New findings published just last week in the journal Science Advances indicate that the answer may have been hiding in plain sight, and that fossils collected decades ago were incorrectly classified as a new dinosaur species dubbed Nanotyrannus when they were actually juvenile T. rex specimens.

"Historically, many museums would collect the biggest, most impressive fossils of a dinosaur species for display and ignore the others," explained Holly Woodward, the lead author of the paper. "The problem is that those smaller fossils may be from younger animals. So, for a long while we've had large gaps in our understanding of how dinosaurs grew up, and T. rex is no exception."

Related: Perhaps T. rex wasn't feathered after all?

How could such a substantial mix-up ever have transpired in the first place, you ask? As it turns out, the answer to that question lies in small details in the fossils’ skulls, which deceptively exhibited seemingly negligible differences from that of an adult T. rex.

A closer analysis of the bones in those fossils revealed that these juvenile T. rexes were about 13 and 15-years old when they died, and that their bodies differed greatly from fully-grown T. rexes because they would’ve been faster on their feet and lighter eaters than their massive adult counterparts.

Not only do these findings help set the record straight, but they also close the gaps that existed in our understanding of the T. rex’s early life stages. This is significant because it means that scientists can now study how T. rex developed as it aged, and it can prevent future mix-ups in addition to advancing T. rex research in general.

Related: How hard could a T. rex bite?

It should be interesting to see if the researchers will learn anything more about T. rex after delving further into the young fossils and whether other smaller dinosaur species are actually just younger dinosaurs in disguise.

Source: Phys.org, Science Advances

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
JUN 29, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
Should You Give Cannabis to Your Cat?
JUN 29, 2020
Should You Give Cannabis to Your Cat?
There is very limited research on the effects of cannabinoids on pets. Although some studies have emerged touting their ...
JUL 11, 2020
Earth & The Environment
The disappearance of Australia's seagrass
JUL 11, 2020
The disappearance of Australia's seagrass
Australia is losing its seagrass. That’s according to a new report released by marine scientists at the Centre for ...
AUG 28, 2020
Plants & Animals
Will Traps Solve the Invasive Lionfish Problem?
AUG 28, 2020
Will Traps Solve the Invasive Lionfish Problem?
Extravagant and spiny lionfish were once highly sought after by home aquarium hobbyists. These venomous fish are native ...
AUG 27, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
Understanding How Animals Make Seasonal Adaptations
AUG 27, 2020
Understanding How Animals Make Seasonal Adaptations
Some animals don't need a new wardrobe to change with the seasons, and scientists have now learned more about how they d ...
SEP 01, 2020
Plants & Animals
Revealing a Mummy's Secrets With High-Resolution Scans
SEP 01, 2020
Revealing a Mummy's Secrets With High-Resolution Scans
Researchers have used a technique called micro–computer tomography (micro-CT) scanning to analyze mummified animal ...
OCT 26, 2020
Microbiology
A Network of Fungi Helps Trees Grow
OCT 26, 2020
A Network of Fungi Helps Trees Grow
Trees rely on a network of fungal friends for good health. Communities of trees can share nutrients and other essentail ...
Loading Comments...