A terror of tyrannosaurs: did dinosaurs hunt in packs?

Jul 24, 2014

Discovery of fossilised footprints in Canada suggest tyrannosaurs worked together to stalk prey

Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Palaeontologists claim to have found evidence that supports the much-debated theory that tyrannosaurs hunted prey in packs known as 'terrors'.

According to The Guardian, researchers in Cananda uncovered a group of fossilised tyrannosaurus footprints that were "apparently left by three animals going the same way at the same time" almost 70 million years ago.

"We hit the jackpot," said study co-author Richard McCrea. "A single footprint is interesting, but a trackway gives you way more. This is about the strongest evidence you can get that these were gregarious animals. The only stronger evidence I can think of is going back in a time machine to watch them."

The trackways, which had been buried under layers of volcanic ash, "were so well-preserved that even the contours of the animals' skin were visible". Scientists estimated by the size of the footprints that the dinosaurs were in "their late 20s or early 30s – a venerable age for tyrannosaurs".

The study concluded that “all three trackways show animals bearing southeast within an 8.5 meter-wide corridor” with the fossils' proximity indicating that the predators “stuck together as a pack to increase their chances of bringing down prey and individually surviving”, quotes the Daily Mail.

Even though previous discoveries suggested the animals were solitary hunters, McCrea claimed that the concurrent discovery of footprints from other dinosaur species heading in separate directions throughout the region supports the tyrannosaurus 'terror' theory.

"If all the other animals are moving in different directions, it means there is no geographical constraint, and it strengthens the case," said McCrea.

"You start wondering what it would have been like to have been there when the tracks were made", he continued. "The word is terror. I wouldn't want to meet them in a dark alley at night."

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