Story at a glance

  • New research supports the theory that tyrannosaur dinosaurs were social predators, according to scientists.
  • Three mass tyrannosaur graves have been found in North America.
  • However, scientists also say it is still possible that outlying circumstances forced the tyrannosaurs together.

Tyrannosaurs, long believed to be solitary creatures, may have been social predators, much like wolves, according to new research announced on Monday.

Paleontologists used geochemical analysis on fossils from a mass tyrannosaur grave, found seven years ago in Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, to determine that the numerous dinosaurs did indeed die together in the same place and the fossils hadn’t ended up there by other means. After studying the fossils, paleontologists honed in on the social predators theory.


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However, it is still possible that outlying circumstances forced the tyrannosaurs together.

“It is a little tougher to be so sure that these data mean that these tyrannosaurs lived together in the good times,” Kristi Curry Rogers, a biology professor at Macalester College, told the Guardian. “It’s possible that these animals may have lived in the same vicinity as one another without travelling together in a social group, and just came together around dwindling resources as times got tougher.”

But this mass grave isn’t the first. The site in Utah is the third mass tyrannosaur grave discovered in North America, giving scientists what they say is credence to the social theory.

The theory of social tyrannosaurs first surfaced 20 years ago after more than a dozen tyrannosaurs were found at a mass grave site in Alberta, Canada, and was further supported by the discovery of another mass grave in Montana.

“Going that next step to understand behavior and how animals behave requires really amazing evidence,” Joseph Sertich, curator of dinosaurs at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, said at a news conference. “I think that this site, the spectacular collection of tyrannosaurs but also the other assembled pieces of evidence ... pushes us to the point where we can show some evidence for behavior.”


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Published on Apr 20, 2021