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New Study, T rex Could've Been A Scavenger



New on Science News. Subscription required tho. Summary follows.


http://www.sciencenews.org/20030322/note16.asp

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. rexsize 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 an
upcoming 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 carrion as much as 80
meters away. If T. rex could sense carrion at four times that distance,
which some modern reptiles can do, the dinosaur could have missed out on
three of every four corpses and still made a scavenger's living, Ruxton
says. 
...
Ruxton notes that the new research doesn't prove T. rex was a scavenger;
it only suggests that the meat eater didn't have to be a predator.