Story at a glance
- Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley calculated that over the course of 127,000 generations, around 2.5 billion T. rex lived on the planet.
- The T. rex population were not all confined to the same place, the research shows.
- Around 3,000 T. rex would occupy an area the size of California.
Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley calculated that over the course of 127,000 generations, around 2.5 billion tyrannosaurus rex lived on the planet. The group, which published its finding Thursday in Science, arrived at this number by calculating the dinosaurs’ approximate body size, sexual maturity and estimated energy consumption.
“That’s a lot of jaws,” the study’s lead author Charles Marshall, director of the University of California Museum of Paleontology told the Associated Press (AP) “That’s a lot of teeth. That’s a lot of claws.”
The team’s calculation employed a scientific rule that says the larger an animal the less dense its population will be in a specific area. After that, energy needs were calculated, with estimates ranging between the needs of a Komodo dragon and a larger “flesh eating mammal.”
“Although much can be deduced from fossils alone, estimating abundance and preservation rates of extinct species requires data from living species,” the researchers wrote.
“Here, we use the relationship between population density and body mass among living species combined with our substantial knowledge of Tyrannosaurus rex to calculate population variables and preservation rates for postjuvenile T. rex,” researchers said.
Yet the T. rex population was not all confined to the same place, the research shows. Researchers estimated that at any given time, around 3,000 T. rex would occupy an area the size of California. By contrast, only two would simultaneously inhabit a geographic space the size of Washington, D.C.
Kristi Curry Rogers, a paleobiologist at Macalester College who was not involved in the study, described to the AP her reaction to the sheer size of the estimated T. rex population, saying she was likely as shocked as the next person.
“Probably like a lot of people, I literally did a double-take to make sure that my eyes hadn’t deceived me when I first read that 2.5 billion T. rexes have ever lived,” Rogers said.
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