London, August 5 (ANI): A study by paleontologists has found that the king of dinosaurs, Tyrannosaurus rex, was a baby killer that feasted on defenseless young prey.
According to a report in The Telegraph, research into the predatory habits and diet of the biggest of the dinosaurs has concluded that T.rex and other members of its carnivorous theropod family preferred to dine on juveniles, preferably small enough to eat whole.
It shatters the notion that the giant battled with animals of a similar or even larger size, an image reinforced by its portrayal in Steven Spielberg's 1993 film Jurassic Park.
David Hone, a British palaeontologist working in China, believes the Tyrannosaurs preferred to prey upon small and unwary baby rivals rather than their fully-grown parents.
His study, carried out with Oliver Rauhut of the Bavarian State Collection for Palaeontology and Geology in Munich, suggests that baby-eating was a common behaviour among the large predatory dinosaurs, offering a possible explanation why so few juvenile dinosaurs have been found in fossil records.
The pair, whose work was published in the journal Lethaia and reported in The Independent, believe that eating baby dinosaurs whole or in large pieces enabled T.rex to digest the minerals and nutrients stored in the bones of their small prey.
According to Dr Hone, who works at the Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology in Beijing, "Modern predators mainly attack vulnerable, young animals as they are inexperienced in evading predators, and this was probably the same in dinosaurs. Young prey are easier to bring down and the risk of injury to the predator is much lower."
"We conclude that, like modern predators, theropods preferentially hunted and ate juvenile animals leading to the absence of small, and especially young, dinosaurs in the fossil record," he said.
"The traditional view of large theropods hunting the adults of large or giant dinosaur species is therefore considered unlikely and such events rare," he added. (ANI)