Scotty, the largest T-Rex found to date (Nexamous)
The Tyrannosaurus Rex was one of the largest dinosaurs to walk the earth, but just how big could this ferocious dinosaur be?
In a new study, the researchers tried to answer this question and came to a surprising conclusion - according to which the T-Rex may have reached a weight of 15,000 kilograms and was 70 percent larger than previously thought.
Paleontologists from the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa, Ontario, estimated that the world's largest Het rex weighed 15,000 kilograms, making it heavier than an average bus, which weighs about 11,000 kilograms.
The scientists presented their findings on November 5 at the annual meeting of the Society for Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP) in Toronto.
Currently, the largest T-rex on record is from a dinosaur known as "Scotty", which weighed 8,870 kg when alive - about the same as 6.5 Volkswagen Beetles.
"The largest T. rex was about 70% larger than Scotty," study author Jordan Malone, a scientist and head of paleobiology at the Canadian Museum of Nature, told Live Science, "that's more than double the size we estimated for T. rex."
To reach this weighty conclusion, the scientists first examined the existing fossil record, which shows that about 2.5 billion T. rexes lived on Earth in the distant past.
However, only a small fraction - 32 mature fossils - have ever been discovered, giving scientists a limited amount of information to draw from.
Much bigger than that (Photo: ShutterStock)
Malone and his research partner David Hone, senior lecturer and deputy director of education at Queen Mary University of London, looked at population numbers and average lifespans to create a model of the largest possible T-rex.
They also considered changes in body size based on mating dimorphism—size differences between males and females within a species.
"We ended up building two models - one showing zero dimorphism and one with strong dimorphism," Malone said.
"If the T. rex was dimorphic, we estimate that it would have weighed up to 24,000 kg, but we rejected this model because if it were true, we would already have found larger individuals by now." Using this data, the scientists were able to demonstrate the growth curve of The T-Rex throughout its life - and to estimate how big a mature dinosaur could have been.
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The T-Rex may have reached a weight of 15,000 kilograms and was 70 percent larger than previously thought (Photo: ShutterStock)
This is Scotty, the largest T-Rex ever found:
Malone clarified that until a T-Rex is found that is similar in size to the one in the model, the model's conclusions are purely speculative.
"It's just a thought experiment with some numbers behind it. It's something fun to think about," Malone said.
Indeed, the investigation highlights how challenging it is for paleontologists to draw conclusions about dinosaur species from a very limited fossil record.
"It reminds us that what we know about dinosaurs isn't much at all, because the sample size is so small," Thomas Carr, a vertebrate paleontologist at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin, who was not involved in the new study, told Live Science.
He added: "Currently, we are nowhere near the sample size needed, especially when compared to other animal species."
Carr, who attended the SVP conference, added that the T. rex was likely much larger than individual scientists have so far located.
"It's really an amazing animal," Carr said, "just imagining a T-rex of this size is extraordinary. I think an animal of this size is statistically within reach."
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