Wednesday, July 24, 2013
I was happy to learn, for the sake of 5-year-old boys everywhere, that Tyrannosaurus rex remains the bad boy of the dinosaur world.
A story on the ScienceNews website reported T. rex’s “fearsome reputation is intact.”
What that means, the article continued, is that the great dinosaur was a predator and not merely a carrion eater. In recent years, some paleontologists have argued T. rex was a scavenger.
To those who look up to the great Cretaceous-era beast, that was blasphemy.
In our household 20 years ago, T. rex was indeed the king of the dinosaurs. Our son knew the names of all the dinosaurs by heart.
He knew whether they were herbivores, carnivores or omnivores, and whether they were bird-hipped or lizard-hipped.
He could rattle off in which era each lived (Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous) and how many million years ago each era was.
The folks at the library used to chuckle every time we’d come in. Instead of heading to the children’s section, he’d make a beeline for the dinosaur shelf.
I think we read every dino book at the local library, and also amassed a pretty good collection of our own.
“Tyrannosaurus” was one of the first words he learned to spell.
Several of our vacations centered on dinosaurs, as we traveled to the dinosaur exhibit at the Calgary Zoo, the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta, and the Dinosaur Provincial Park in Brooks, Alberta. (The latter is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.)
One of my favorite photos is of him, beaming ear to ear, sitting beneath a huge T. rex skeleton at the Tyrrell museum.
The study of dinosaurs is pretty interesting. A lot of the information has stayed with me, since I read most of those books aloud to him over and over, and I perk up every time I hear about some new advance in the study of dinosaurs.
Thus, the ScienceNews headline “T. rex hunted live prey” demanded a click-through.
A dig in South Dakota led to evidence of a T. rex-sized bite on the back of a duck-billed dinosaur.
Embedded in the fused bones of that duck-bill was the crown of a tooth matching the size and shape of T. rex teeth.
Bone growth over the tooth indicates the bite had healed, leading scientists to conclude that the dino world’s bad boy put the bite on his duck-billed contemporary.
The only downer in the article, for fans of the T. rex as a savage hunter, was that the beast might also have scavenged some of the time.
Oh well, I suppose that’s to be expected. After all, even the best cooks go out to dinner occasionally.
Dee Camp is a reporter at The Chronicle. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.