Jul 17, 2019 | Updated: 10:03 AM EDT

A True King of the Dinosaurs is Finally Pieced Together

Mar 24, 2019 11:48 AM EDT

T-Rex skeleton
(Photo : Image by ScottRobertAnselmo from Wikimedia Commons) ScottRobertAnselmo [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

We have all seen the movies and are familiar with the lore of the infamous T- rex. For as long as we can remember T- rex has been considered the King of Dinosaurs. Usually portrayed as a vicious carnivore, eating smaller dinosaurs in single bites and now maybe the stories have been confirmed, well as far as size may be concerned. Although the fact that the T- rex may have been more of a scavenger than a prolific predator is still up for debate, the mammoth size has been confirmed with the discovery and reassembly of Scotty, the world's largest known Tyrannosaurus rex. Scotty lived in prehistoric Saskatchewan 66 million years ago and measured 13 meters, according to University of Alberta paleontologists.

"This is the rex of rexes," said Scott Persons, a U of A paleontologist who led a study on the once formidable dinosaur, nicknamed Scotty. "There is considerable size variability among Tyrannosaurus. Some individuals were lankier than others and some were more robust. Scotty exemplifies the robust. The T- rex comes out a bit heftier than other T- rex specimens."

Nicknamed for a celebratory bottle of scotch the night it was discovered, Scotty has leg bones suggesting a living weight of more than 8,800 kilos, making it bigger than all other carnivorous dinosaurs. The skeleton was first discovered in 1991. The bones were encased in sandstone, which took more than a decade to remove. It's only recently, after several more years piecing together the specimen like a jigsaw puzzle, that scientists have been able to study Scotty.

Long lived the king. Scotty's size and weight aren't all that set it apart, Persons noted, the Canadian mega-rex also lays claim to seniority.

"Scotty is the oldest T- rex known," Persons explained. "By which I mean, it would have had the most candles on its last birthday cake. You can get an idea of how old a dinosaur is by cutting into its bones and studying its growth patterns. Scotty is all old growth." But age is relative, and T- rexes grew fast and died young. Scotty was estimated to have been in its early 30s when it died. "By Tyrannosaurus standards, it had an unusually long life. And it was a violent one," Persons said. "Riddled across the skeleton are pathologies, spots where scarred bone records large injuries." Among Scotty's injuries are broken ribs, an infected jaw and what may be a bite from another T- rex on its tail, battle scars from a long life.

"I think there will always be bigger discoveries to be made," said Persons. "But as of right now, this particular Tyrannosaurus is the largest terrestrial predator known to science."

A new exhibit featuring the skeleton of Scotty is set to open at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum in May 2019. The study, "An Older and Exceptionally Large Adult Specimen of Tyrannosaurus rex," was published in The Anatomical Record.

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