Was T. rex just a big freeloader? | Science News

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Was T. rex just a big freeloader?

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12:47pm, March 18, 2003

Paleontologists have long debated whether Tyrannosaurus rex was a predator or a scavenger. In most previous analyses, scientists have scrutinized the creature's teeth and jaws. Now, Graeme D. Ruxton and David C. Houston at the University of Glasgow in Scotland weigh in on the issue from another angle: whether a T. rex–size scavenger could have found enough dead meat to survive.

Ecosystems like the savannas of Africa could have provided sufficient carrion to nourish a scavenging T. rex, the researchers report in the April 7 issue of Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B.

On Tanzania's Serengeti grasslands, enough herbivores die each day to provide about 4.4 kilograms of carrion per square kilometer. According to equations that Ruxton and Houston developed, that's enough meat to feed a typical 6,000-kg adult T. rex if the creature had a reptilian metabolism, spent

12 hours daily foraging, and could detect car

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