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Top 5 Most Awful Tyrannosaurs

Why five? Because five is higher than tyrannosaurs can count.
It came to my attention that most people are not aware that there was more than one kind of Tyrannosaur. Well, bad news. There were lots of Tyrannosaurs. Sorry if you were thinking about ever feeling secure again. According to the internet, the best way to educate the public these days is in the numbered list format. So without further delay, and because no one reads the opening paragraph to a numbered list article on a website anyway, here they are: the top 5 most awful Tyrannosaurs of all time (that we know about).

5. Albertosaurus


Albertosaurus was a pretty standard medium sized tyrannosaur, a limber hunter that developed to chase down prey like hadrosaurs. What makes it so scary, beyond the fact that it was a murderous thirty foot long theropod?
Conventions. Freaking Albertosaurus raves.
In the Dry Island bonebed, twenty-six Albertosaurs were found together. There were a dozen or so juveniles, another dozen adults and sub-adults, and then one enormous elder. What the hell do you possibly need twenty-six Albertosaurs to accomplish? What the hell were they hunting? Canada? The entire nation of Canada?

4. Daspletosaurus

photo credit: BBC

photo credit: BBC

Daspletosaurus was a colleague of Albertosaurus, a contemporary in a similar field. That field was ruthless murder, and while the fleet footed Albertosaurus was forming death squads and tracking down hadrosaurs, Daspletosaurus hit the gym. This monster had bigger teeth than T. Rex. It was on freaking Cretaceous steroids. It had powerful, stocky legs and a hugely muscled neck. That’s because Daspletosaurus was probably gunning for cerotopsians, while letting gangs of Albertosaurs handle the “light work”.
Daspletosaurus would probably show up to Albertosaur conventions and hit on the obviously engaged Albertosaur honeys and call everyone else a beta and ask Nanotyrannus if he even lifts.
This is all before it would go and take on bus sized spiky bull monsters like Styracosaurus,  which it would eat with a of sprinkling protein powder.

3. Nanotyrannus

photo credit: Wikipedia Commons

photo credit: Wikipedia Commons

Nanotyrannus was only about a third of the size of the biggest tyrannosaurs, which you might think would preclude it from this list. The problem with that line of thinking is that a third of huge is still pretty freaking big. Think of it in terms of sliders. It doesn’t matter whether you eat one 12oz burger or three 4oz burgers, you’re still over eating. It works the same way with pack hunting tyrannosaurs. Dividing a tyrannosaur into three smaller tyrannosaurs doesn’t mean you’re going to be alright, it just means that the tyrannosaurs will be able to cover all of your exits.
Hell, a seventeen foot long Nanotyrannus could probably hide in your garage. Are you going to go to your garage, be ambushed by a Nanotyrannus, and be like,
“Oh, this is fine. This tyrannosaur is only seventeen feet long.”
No. You’ll be like, “I am dead now because it turns out that the size of a tyrannosaur is not necessarily a major factor in my ability to survive it eating my head, beyond a certain critical size which is likely somewhere in the twelve to fourteen foot-” DEAD.

2. Lythronax

photo credit: The Guardian

photo credit: The Guardian

“The King of Gore”. That is what “Lythronax” means. Scientists just discovered Lythronax, and this name proves to me that the Conservative Dinosaur Readiness philosophy is catching on. This is the great ancestor of tyrannosaurs, and it had a few adaptations that made tyrannosaurs hugely successful.
One of those adaptations was binocular vision. Lythronax was already huge at thirty feet long, and it already had the trademark jaws and powerful legs of the tyrannosaurs. Evolving binocular vision on an animal like that is kind of like a missile evolving a guidance system. Except instead of a swift fiery death, you would probably see Lythronax coming and get a few futile minutes of abject terror and fruitless flight as it chased you about and you would be screaming and it would trample your cat and your I-Pad Mini and you would scream to heaven for salvation but none would come because NO ONE LISTENED TO THE CONSERVATIVE DINOSAUR READINESS MOVEMENT.
WHY DIDN’T THEY LISTEN? Chomp chomp nom nom.
Lythronax will get its own article in the near future as more information is divulged by paleontologists.

1. Tyrannosaurus Rex

photo credit: Walking With Dinosaurs

photo credit: Walking With Dinosaurs

Oh, did you think I was going to do that hipster move where I put the obvious choice as #2? Well this isn’t a chump ranking of Beatles albums, nephew. This is serious.

Fun Tyrannosaurus Rex fact: Scientists hypothesize that the reason they can’t find any baby Tyrannosaurus Rex fossils is because they didn’t often die as juveniles. By two years old, a young T. Rex was bigger than any other contemporary land predator.

Fact number dos: Scientists know T. Rex was an active hunter because they are still picking Rex fangs out of the backs of hadrosaurs that survived the initial confrontation. That’s a love nip with 6-inch long teeth.

Fun fact the threequel: Tyrannosaurus Rex had an estimated bite force of nearly 13,000 pounds, which is about as much as it weighed total. That’s three times the weight of the average car in the United States. Also about equal to 1600 new born babies.

Return of the Fun Fact: This is how big T. Rex was compared to a few of these other chump lizards.

Lol seriously

Lol seriously


The only reason T. Rex didn’t evolve wings is because the sky doesn’t bleed. Tyrannosaurs Rex only had two fingers on each hand because scissors always wins if you stab hard enough. The biggest Tyrannosaurus Rex ever found was named Sue because you could fit both Johnnie Cochran and Mike Geragos in her gaping jaws.  T. Rex didn’t go extinct, murder got tired.

Yeah, you could subscribe. Why not.

Legitimate Interview: Peter Larson on Nanotyrannus

expert interview

Tyrannosaurs. Nature’s ultimate weapons. Mankind’s great reminder of the power of evolution. They have been debated and our images of them have been reshaped and re-conceived as science has breached the fog of the time that (thankfully) has separated our species by millennia. Now, as humanity is coming to terms with the dangers of this pitiless planet that these ancient monsters represent, finally the Conservative Dinosaur Readiness Movement has gained legitimacy and notoriety enough to attract an interview from one of the great experts on the subject.

Peter Larson has a great deal to tell the world about Tyrannosaurs, and two weeks ago he agreed to tell Dinosaurs! WTF?. For years, Larson has been excavating dinosaurs, including Sue (largest T. Rex found thus far). He is the president of the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research. In this exclusive interview, Peter Larson cast light on one of the great Tyrannosaur mysteries: Nanotyrannus.

The debate sounds goofy at first. Scientists found a Tyrannosaur fossil, call it Nanotyrannus. It looked fairly similar to Tyrannosaurus Rex, but about a third of the size. What do you figure? Baby T. Rex, right? Peter Larson does not think so.

“Nanotyrannus is valid,” said Larson.

Of course it would not be something so simple as a baby T. Rex. Theropods did not evolve to give science easy answers. They evolved to be terrifying killing machines, and nature is a tricky mother.

“The Nanotyrannus is a valid genus and species. One of my major papers was just published over at Indiana University’s Press. It’s about Tyrannosaur biology. It’s really a long and drawn out paper but it shows something like 37 characters that separate Nanotyrannus from Tyrannosaurus Rex,” Larson said.

Over the phone, he sounded much smarter than me.

“You said 37 characteristics?” I asked.

“Something like that. They’re called characters. Things like, for instance, well one of them wasn’t mentioned in that paper because it was submitted for publication in 2006.”

I nodded and wrote down that I had misused basic biology vocabulary on the phone with a Tyrannosaur expert, so that I would remember to tell my therapist.

You may have seen in the news that a very well preserved Nanotyrannus fossil has just gone up for auction. A mutual murder was recorded in the fossil– the Nanotyrannus is locked in a battle to the death with a Triceratops. The Nanotyrannus has taken a huge bite out of the Triceratops’ ass, and the Triceratops responded by pecking in the theropod’s skull. Nice fellows. This new skeleton has given better ammunition to Larson’s argument that this was not a junior Rex.

“For instance, every bone in its hand is bigger than the biggest T. Rex that has been found. …I’m not talking proportions, I’m talking actual length.”

For those of you keeping score at home, arm bones do not generally shrink in adulthood. Feeling like a real dinosaur investigator at this point, I pressed on with the tough questions.

“Why do you think it’s so important? What are the implications of nanotyrannus being its own species?” I asked with my mouth.

“Diversity. We’re seeing patterns of this towards the end of the age of dinosaurs. …Much more diverse fauna than some would like you to think. For instance Torosaurus is not a very grown up Triceratops, it also is valid. But there’s been… Jack Horner has some really good ideas about plasticity and that’s something you need to look at but not everything is part of a non-classed genetic series. There’s not just one ceratopsian, one tyrannosaur,” Larson said.

Peter Larson is invested in this debate. His ideas are at odds with those of Jack Horner, another great dinosaur expert who actually answers my emails.

“It’s always good to ask those questions. But just because you ask a question doesn’t mean that the answer that you’re giving is the correct answer. When Tom Carr first proposed this back in 1999, it was a great question, but there were certain reasons… now that we have more specimens, we know the answer to that question. It’s not a juvenile T. Rex.”

So if it wasn’t a junior Rex, what was it up to? A Tyrannosaur a third of the size of a T. Rex is still a 17 foot long killing machine. I was afraid to ask, but I did.

“So how do you think Nanotyrannus would have functioned as a predator?”

“They were probably… if you know the specimens we’ve found, like the Triceratops showing at the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis right now… there were more than 30 Nanotyrannus teeth found in that skeleton.”

Sweet Jesus.

“So there’s a good argument to be made that nanotyrannus was probably a pack hunter. While we do have multiple instances of multiple T. Rex being found, it has only been like two individuals, three at most, at the same site. And while nanotyrannus for some reason is much rarer, we find lots and lots of teeth but not skeletons. Of course those teeth represent successful hunters, they’re shedding their teeth and they were more abundant than Tyrannosaurs Rex. It’s just we haven’t found every skeleton.”


I wiped away my tears.

“I see. That’s a lot of good information. That was my last question, do you have anything you might like to add?” I said, voice quivering.

“Well, just that science is really fun. So the controversy that something like this brings up, it really forces you to look at things in a different way. And that’s always good. So, you know, even though I disagree with Tom Carr and Jack Horner about nanotyrannus I’m really glad that they are around to give that opposite opinion. Because it really sharpens our tools that we use to try and understand these things about life,” Larson finished.

Hear that kids? Science is fun, debate is healthy, and WE HAVEN’T FOUND ALL THE NANOTYRANNUS YET.

Profile on Nanotyrannus next week, along with a downloadable copy of the full interview. Subscribe if you want, but it won’t save you from tooth shedding hidden monsters from prehistory. Do you want to see your letter in this month’s letter section? Send one.