Peer Reviewed

Tyrannosaurs were violent cannibals

Remains of a mutilated victim provide strong evidence that T. Rex and his kin were violent animals and practised cannibalism.

The remains are of the large carnivorous tyrannosaur Daspletosaurus with many injuries during its lifetime and was partially eaten after it died.

Palaeontologists now believe that members of Daspletosaurus’ own species inflicted all of that damage.

“This animal clearly had a tough life suffering numerous injuries across the head, including some that must have been quite nasty,” said lead author David Hone from the Queen Mary University of London.

Tyrannosaurs cannibals
Skull in right lateral view showing numerous injuries indicated with black arrows and the relevant code letter, Image credit: PeerJ

“The most likely candidate to have done this is another member of the same species, suggesting some serious fights between these animals during their lives,” Hone pointed out.

Daspletosaurus lived around 77 million years ago in North America.

At the time of death, the animal measured about 20 feet long and weighed approximately 1,102 pounds and there were numerous injuries on its body.

Though all the injuries cannot be attributed to bites, several are close in shape to the teeth of tyrannosaurs, Hone explained.

One bite to the back of the head had broken off part of the skull and left a circular tooth-shaped puncture through the bone.

Later, a large tyrannosaur, may be from the same species, chomped into the dead teen dino and presumably ate at least part of it.

The remains provide evidence for both combat between dinosaurs of the same species and cannibalism.

T. Rex was closely related to Daspletosaurus and were cousins and grew to nearly the same sizes as adults.

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It is therefore likely that T. Rex and other large carnivorous tyrannosaurs engaged in similar behaviour.

The study appeared in the journal PeerJ.


Hone D, Tanke D. (2015) Pre- and postmortem tyrannosaurid bite marks on the remains of Daspletosaurus (Tyrannosaurinae: Theropoda) from Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada. PeerJ 3:e885

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