- “That’s a lot of jaws,” said lead study author Charles Marshall. “That’s a lot of teeth. That’s a lot of claws.
- The species has roamed North America for a few million years.
- The authors estimated the species’ population density to be approximately 3,800 T. rex in an area the size of California.
We all know that the most terrifying dinosaur of all – Tyrannosaurus rex – once roamed the Earth. But how many of these formidable beasts were there?
According to a new study that estimated the population traits of the long-extinct iconic species, over their entire Late Cretaceous reign, the total number of Tyrannosaurus rex that ever lived on Earth was around 2 , 5 billion.
“That’s a lot of jaws,” said lead author of the study Charles Marshall, director of the University of California Museum of Paleontology. “That’s a lot of teeth. That’s a lot of claws.
The species roamed North America for a few million years, which means that the population density of T. rex was low at one point. In fact, at any given time, approximately 20,000 T. rex would have been alive on the planet.
The authors estimated the species’ population density to be around 3,800 T. rex in an area the size of California – or two in an area the size of Washington DC.
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Using calculations based on the creatures’ body size, sexual maturity, and energy needs, the researchers determined how many T. rex lived over 127,000 generations.
Marshall’s team calculated the population using a rule of thumb in general biology that says the larger the animal, the less dense its population.
Marshall said the estimate helps scientists determine the conservation rate of T. rex fossils and underlines how lucky the world is to know about them.
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Only a hundred T. rex fossils have been found – 32 of them with enough material to represent that they are adults. If there were 2.5 million T. rex instead of 2.5 billion, we probably would never have known they existed, he said.
Thomas Holtz, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Maryland at College Park, called the calculation “interesting speculation,” adding that “we have always known that the chance of an individual becoming a fossil was extremely rare, but we didn’t. didn’t have the math to understand how rare, ”according to the journal Nature.
The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal Science, a publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Contribute: The Associated Press