Five Surprising Facts About Tyrannosaurus rex

Five Surprising Facts About Tyrannosaurus rex
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File
Five Surprising Facts About Tyrannosaurus rex
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File
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To most laypersons, Tyrannosaurus rex epitomizes the dinosaurs, but in truth, the 40-foot-long, 14,000-pound carnivore prowled the Earth for just two million years, a paltry portion of dinosaurs' 165-million-year reign. And that's not the only surprising fact about the "Tyrant King." Here are five more:

1. Tyrannosaurus rex was one of the last non-avian dinosaurs to exist. Fossils suggest that T. rex lived between 68 and 66 million years ago, right up until the notorious Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event. This mass extinction was likely triggered when a ten to fifteen kilometer-wide asteroid slammed into the Yucatan Peninusla, releasing energy equivalent to a billion Hiroshima atomic bombs. That T. rex existed at the end of the dinosaur's story presents a thought-provoking fact – as pointed out by science writer Riley Black, "Less time separates us from Tyrannosaurus rex than separated T. rex from Stegosaurus."

2. T. rex may have had the most powerful bite of all time. T. rex sported a four-foot-long jaw and potentially the most powerful bite of all time, though the infamous shark Megalodon might have a bone to pick about that. Speaking of bones, T. rex's jaw could easily crush them, with each of its sizable teeth generating an astounding 431,000 pounds per square inch of pressure, which could have literally caused bones to explode.

3. T. rex only roamed the western part of North America. While T. rex's legend spans the globe, its actual range was limited to what is now western North America, from southwest Mexico to Alaska. Back then, this region was an island continent scientists have dubbed Laramidia, flanked by the Pacific Ocean on the west and the Western Interior Seaway on the east, which flooded what is now the Great Plains.

4. T. rex's "puny" arms were surprisingly strong. Though disproportionate to its lengthy frame, the reptile's "stumpy" 3-foot arms could easily curl approximately 430 pounds of weight! Paleontologists have hypothesized various functions for these arms: grasping prey, holding mating partners, pushing the T. rex up from the ground, or perhaps they had no functional use at all.

5. We still don't know if T. rex had feathers. Though Hollywood still refuses to recognize this fact, most dinosaurs had some sort of plumage. Paleontologists still aren't sure if T. rex did, however. There have been no signs of feathers on any adult T. rex fossil, although plenty of feathers have been found on other Tyrannosaurs. It's possible that infant and juvenile T. rex had feathers that grew along the spine from head to tail, but these may have become less pronounced into adulthood.

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