We all know that the mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex was big. But palaeontologists in Canada have just identified the biggest lizard tyrant king yet – its name is Scotty!
The enormous dinosaur, which was 42 feet long and weighed 19,400 pounds, roamed prehistoric Saskatchewan 66 million years ago. A high school teacher and palaeontologists with the Royal Saskatchewan Museum who were out prospecting for fossils found Scotty in the badlands just outside of East End in 1991. The excavation was a slow and painstaking process, taking over a decade.
Palaeontologists had to put the bones back together – another slow and painstaking process. But it was worth it, because now those bones are finally giving up their secrets.
For instance, we know that Scotty (named for the bottle of Scotch whisky opened to celebrate the skeleton’s initial discovery) was exceptionally old – it has lived longer than any other T. Rex discovered to date.
T-Rexes weren’t known for living long. They were quick to grow and often died young. Scotty was in his early 30s when he died, and he carried the battle scars to show how hard he fought to live.
Researchers cataloged the injuries recorded on his bones and discovered an infected jaw, broken ribs and what looks to be a bite from a fellow T. Rex on his tail.
A fascinating conclusion reached in the new study is that the sizes of T. Rex and other dinosaurs are being understated by palaeontologists. The reason, according to the authors, is that very few dinosaurs managed to survive into full maturity. Consequently, there are more fossils of younger, smaller dinosaurs than there are of bigger, older dinosaurs, resulting in a kind of selection bias. Looking at Scotty’s skeleton, with its wide-ranging display of injuries, life as a dinosaur was clearly tough—even when you’re a T. Rex.
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