At 42 feet long and weighing 7.5 tons, you'd think Tyrannosaurus rex was terrifying enough. But no, it gets worse, because evidence has surfaced that makes "the king of the tyrant lizards" even more fearsome. Paleontologists say T. rex was likely ... a cannibal.
This messes with our common conception that T. rex was a fearsome hunter, stalking its enemies as the Predator stalked Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnold imagery aside, researchers found 17 T. rex bones with striations that could only have come from the nibblings of other T. rex teeth.
According to The Huffington Post:
[Scientists] found 17 fossils with deep V-shaped gouges of a type identified as being made by T. rex. Of those, four were remains of T. rex themselves.
It seems likely the marks were made during scavenging from a dead dinosaur, the researchers said.
If you've been keeping up with scientific debates, there's an ongoing fight in the paleontology world (obviously fought in a cage match) about T. rex's place in the ecosystem—predator or scavenger. These fossils add another point to the side of the tally marked "scavenger." Other points in the scavenger side: Unlike most predators, the T. rex probably didn't run very fast, its arms were short, and its fingers did not grasp. Plus, the largest birds—the dinosaur's likely evolutionary descendants—are scavengers.
However, if you're the kind of person who sides with the predator theory, the T. rexes may have helped each other shuffle off their mortal coils through combat (again, obviously fought in a cage match). And after one of them perished, the others decided, "Them's good eatin'."
No matter what, it's great fun to speculate, because dinosaurs are awesome—cannibal dinosaurs doubly so.
The only thing better than a cannibal dinosaur? A zombie cannibal dinosaur from space.