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The Dino Pit title image

Artist's rendering of Tyrannosaurus rex - Giant Predatory DinosaurTyrannosaurus rex
Giant Theropod Dinosaur

Partial upper jaw and teeth
TMM 41436-1
Javelina Formation, Cretaceous
Big Bend National Park
Brewster County, Texas


Tyrannosaurus was one of the largest of the giant predatory dinosaurs, although a few newly discovered species may have been a bit larger.  Tyrannosaurus and its carnivorous relatives are members of the theropod branch of the dinosaur family tree.  Their large, curved, serrated teeth are built like steak knives and are designed for tearing flesh.  There is no doubt Tyrannosaurus ate meat, but there is still some debate over whether it was a predator, a scavenger, or both.  Like all predatory dinosaurs, Tyrannosaurus walked only on its hindlimbs.  Its forelimbs were unusually tiny and their function has always been a mystery. 

Tyrannosaurus was one of the last non-avian dinosaurs in Texas, and lived in the same environment as Alamosaurus and Quetzalcoatlus.  Like these creatures, Tyrannosaurus became extinct at the very end of the Cretaceous (65 million years ago) in the great extinction event that killed off many other species.  The closest living relatives of Tyrannosaurus are modern birds.

Tyrannosaurus roamed across western North America, but only a few rare bits and pieces of its skeleton have been found in Texas.  The partial upper jaw buried in the Dino Pit is just a small piece of the skeleton, but it is nevertheless one of the most complete pieces of a Tyrannosaurus ever found in Texas.  It was discovered in Big Bend National Park in 1970 and excavated by paleontologists at the Texas Memorial Museum’s Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory.

 

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