Tyrannosaurus rex (T-rex) is the superstar of the pre-historic world. The tyrant lizard king lived in the Cretaceous period about 60 million years ago (not the Jurassic period, 150 million years ago as some movies would have you believe). Everyone knows T-rex, whether from the movies or children’s books, this dinosaur is now known far beyond its original habitat of North America. T-rex features along with triceratops in the Energex Playasaurus Place on the ground floor of Queensland Museum and Sciencentre. The public can see the dinosaurs looming large when walking down Grey Street outside the museum.
T-rex is back in the spotlight due to the work of palaeontologist Miriam Reichel from the University of Alberta in Canada. Miriam has studied the teeth of T-rex and has found that like humans, teeth in T-rex’s mouth had different jobs based on their location in the jaw. Read the article here.
Miriam’s work, published in The Canadian Journal of Earth Science, shows that teeth at the front of the jaw were adapted to puncture and hold on to prey. Teeth in the mid jaw were for slicing through flesh and bone and the teeth at the back also sliced and diced as well as directed food to the back of the mouth before swallowing. The teeth of T-rex are not sharp like those of a great white shark, they were very large and robust (the size and shape of a banana) to enable them to puncture the tough hide of their prey and hold on while the struggle between predator and prey continued.
This research shows that there are many evolving ideas regarding the world of science and palaeontology today. Recent discoveries of dinosaurs in Queensland have received international media coverage as you can see from this article in the U.K Guardian newspaper. Queensland Museum palaeontologist, Scott Hocknall, commented on the fearsome reputation of “Banjo” – a carnivorous dinosaur, observing that the Australovenator wintonensis, was bigger than the velociraptor, whose “disembowelling sickle claw helped earn its fierce reputation”.
Steve Parish has produced a book in collaboration with Dr Alex Cook from QM entitled, Amazing Facts About Australian Dinosaurs which children will love. It can be purchased through QM Publications. There are also some amazing dinosaur eggs which hatch that are available at the QM on-line shop. They will make a change from eating chocolate ones over Easter!
We’ll be back with more science ideas, exhibitions and curators’ thoughts after a short break.