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Another Look at the Tyrannosaurus Rex by SpiderMilkshake (critique requested)

Another Look at the Tyrannosaurus Rex (critique requested)


^w^ This species in particular gets a lot of press... but mostly for its movie versions, which are "Ehh." at best. Can't get any better than the real thing--especially considering that while this beastie is one of the best known, they're also one of the most poorly known of large dinosaurs by the public.

T-Rex boasts one of the most complete selections of fossils collected, with multiple whole specimens recovered of varying sizes and ages, and even different specimens of visible sexual dimorphism. While most studied dinosaur species have to make do with maybe one lucky semi-complete skeleton (more likely, many scattered fragments that eventually bring about an approximation of a whole picture), T-Rex has not only complete remains and multiple partial remains but also footprint fossils and more recently some skin impressions. Impressions from a T-Rex tail revealed that at least part of it was scaled and not feathered, meaning that despite other tyrannosaurids having definite feathery integument T-Rex was one species that also hung on to a scaly appearance. The exact amount of featherlessness would probably depend on the particular range of the Rex--with those dwelling in the more mild southerly range looking more like this drawing, and those up into Canada where the seasonal temperature shifts were more pronounced being more heavily feathered for added insulation. Another possibility is, like modern day land mammals in temperate regions, T-Rexes grew and shed different coats of feathery down depending on season.

It's also a little-known fact that the diet of T-Rex is not as clear-cut as one might guess from the consistent psuedo-scientific thrillers released featuring them. While definitely built to eat meat, the shape of the T-Rex's teeth and proportionally huge jaw strength compared to relatives seems to suggest a different hunting strategy or perhaps a completely different food source from other tyrannosaurids. A comparison can be made to modern-day hyenas, since both show a more robust build in their teeth and jaws than surrounding predators, which might mean that T-Rex was less the sole hunter of the area but more of the adept clean-up crew which, if needed, could also take their their own prey.

Another interesting thing about T-Rex fossils that most people aren't aware of is the prevalence of spinal arthritis in older specimens. Many T-Rex fossils of animals in the 20+ year age range show vertebral fusing not present in even slightly younger adults, which indicates that old T-Rexes survived despite physical stresses in their younger days taking their toll. The implications are rather interesting and could mean multiple things--could this stress be the result of a hunting technique where the sheer force of killing blows and lunges later resulted in the animal's very spine wearing down? Or was this stress more the result of competitive behavior between T-Rex, perhaps in ritualized mating battles or scuffles to claim carcasses? It could mean that older T-Rexes were benefiting from living in family groups--with younger members of a "pack" who were still able to hunt sharing kills with the oldsters. It could also suggest that old T-Rex and young T-Rex occupied different carnivorous niches entirely, with young Tyrannosaurus hunting large game and crunching into tough ceratopsian and titanosaur carcasses and oldsters rooting about for smaller animals, or possibly even turning to fish or other aquatic animals. It's hard to tell which was the case from just skeletons and skin imprints.

Also, DNA tests run on some preserved bone marrow and blood cells inside one T-Rex femur revealed a close genetic link with... chickens. Which means that the humble scratching bird and the "tyrant lizard king" exist somewhere on the same branches of the evolutionary tree, sharing a common ancestor.

And as for the art... 83 This is a quick sketch I made one day out of boredom just to draw a T-Rex in an active stance... and digitally I decided to add a full colorization. ^w^ I really like the colors and patterns here, especially the flashy quills. This could be a "summer-coat" T-Rex... or a southern T-Rex... I simply decided to draw this one with less featheryness but still some vestiges of quills and down, since pretty much all later theropods would have had some. X3 Though... I do love me some floofy tyrannosaurs.

Submission Information

Visual / Digital


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    i have to admit i like most varieties of t-rex, even fictional ones...the fluffy chicken bird t rex is cute but this is a nice mix of scaled and feathered. the contrast between the little wings and the dino itself is funny

    ive read that apparently theres evidence that even ceratopsians had at least rudimentary quills along their lower backs, which is something i never expected...i thought it was more of a...theropod trait.

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      ^^ Glad you like this one!
      Gotta admit, for T-Rex at least I prefer a more scaly creature, since the evidence is leaning towards that one in particular having more scaliness than featheriness. Other tyrannosaurs I like more fluffy to different degrees. XD

      Ah, yeah... I had heard about the ceratopsian feathers. That's really cool to me ^^ I've got a somewhat unfounded (yet) theory that maybe the line of where saurian ended and avian begins goes back a lot further than we though. ^^;