February 27, 2024

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We knew that Tyrannosaurus rex was huge.  We now have reason to believe it was 70% larger.

We knew that Tyrannosaurus rex was huge. We now have reason to believe it was 70% larger.

A few years ago, in August 1991A group of archaeologists in Saskatchewan, Canada, found a block of bones from what appears to be a dinosaur that lived in… End of the Cretaceous period. This discovery excited them so much that the expedition is said to have celebrated it that same night by toasting it with good Scotch whisky. In reference to this celebration, the prehistoric creature is known today inside and outside Canada as… “my silence.”.

And they had reasons to do so: The Frenchman River Valley remains belong, as was confirmed years later, in 2019, to a Tyrannosaurus rex (T. rex). The biggest discovery ever.

It took time to reach this conclusion because Scotty’s bones were trapped in the hard sandstone, prolonging the painstaking work of removing the stones, assembling all the remains, and then studying them by comparing them with other similar fossils. The effort was great, but it was worth it. Before archaeologists crystallized “Rex rex”how Someone Soctt joked back in the daya researcher in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Alberta.

Puns aside, the Scottie certainly stood out due to its massive proportions.

Studies have revealed that when it roamed the valleys of what is now Saskatchewan, ancient T. rex weighed approx 8,870 kgso far More than an African elephantIt was 12 meters long. It could be cool if you see it in a museum. However, finding yourself in front of its open mouth 66 million years ago was an experience few creatures would want to have.

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What if Scotty is average?

Now, three decades after Scottie’s discovery, we have indications that although the Canadian T. rex was huge, at least by the standards we’re used to dealing with, it may not have been very large among its peers. Moreover, the calculations with the information we have today have allowed us to ask ourselves a question that points in a completely different direction: What if that Scottie who has astounded us for years —And terrorize us– Was the T. rex actually so ordinary, so far removed from the gigantic dimensions reached by other specimens?

This is the question posed by a team of experts from Society of Vertebrate Paleontology He’s been defending for a long time. Last year, Jordan Malone, a researcher at… Canadian Museum of Naturepresented by David Hone, from Queen Mary University of London Theoretical exercise Which led to a remarkable result: the T-Rex could have reached much higher dimensions than we had hitherto thought.

Their estimates specifically indicate that the largest T. rex could reach 15,000 kilograms, much more than an 11,000 kilo school bus. The data will be 70% more than what our fossils indicate and what Old Scotty’s bones tell us. “That’s almost double the size of a T. rex.” Malone explained. Live Science Publishing.

In their calculations, scientists proceeded from the fossil record and a startling fact: they are estimated to have walked on Earth 2.5 billion Tyrannosaurus rexThat’s a very large number of samples that have been passed down over 127,000 generations. Despite this number, the reality is that we only have a few dozen adult fossils: 32, to be precise, according to Accounts published in 2021 in nature. This number equates to only one in every 80 million T. rex. a little. A little bit. Naturally, this limits our ability to know them.

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Malone and Hone built on this foundation and analyzed population numbers and life expectancy to create the T. rex model. “As big as possible”, According to Live Science.

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During their research they took into account possible differences based on Sexual dimorphism, the phenomenon that explains why lions and lionesses or roosters and chickens look so different. Taking this factor into account, and assuming that Tyrannosaurus rex was dimorphic, their model indicated that it could have reached 24,000 kilograms, a possibility they ended up ruling out because – as Malone admits – if that were true, scientists would have already found Larger individuals.

The other model, which did not contain dimorphism, allowed them to model the growth curve throughout the dinosaur’s life and estimate the dimensions it could reach as an adult. The team realizes, however, that for now, and waiting for fossils to be discovered that support their calculations, they are only able to “Thought experiment With some numbers on the back.”

“This reminds us that what we know about dinosaurs is not much, since the sample sizes are so small,” Thomas Carr, a scientist at Carthage College, who was not involved in the research, but attended, admits to WoerdsSidekick. The conference was held within a day Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SPV): “Right now, we are nowhere near the required sample size, especially compared to other species.”

Image | Brett Meliti

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*An earlier version of this article was published in November 2022