Footprints suggest T-Rex hunted in a pack

2014-07-25 14:31


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Ottawa - Scientists in western Canada have discovered the fossilised footprints of three tyrannosaurs that suggest these fearsome predators may have hunted in packs.

The sets of tyrannosaur footprints are the first ever to be found in proximity to one another and are the only clear evidence so far that these dinosaurs may have been social rather solitary animals.

"The evidence is as strong as you can get with any fossil evidence that tyrannosaurs were pack animals", Richard McCrea of the Peace Region Palaeontology Research Centre, who led the excavation, told AFP on Thursday.

"It shows that these were three animals travelling together, all going in the same direction", he said.

Previously, only individual tyrannosaur footprints have been uncovered in the United States, Canada and Mongolia.


The parallel tracks leading into a rock cliff near Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia indicate the three were walking in a group, "bearing southeast within an 8.5m-wide corridor", according to a study.

The researchers cited "similarities in depth and preservation" of the tracks as proof that they were made by animals "walking concurrently in the same direction."

The three-toed footprints of these very large bipedal carnivores with powerful jaws and small clawlike front legs were discovered by a local guide and outfitter in 2011 in what would have been soft mud 70 million years ago.

Excavation, which is continuing, has uncovered seven footprints in all.

They are believed to have been covered up and preserved by volcanic ash, only to be exposed eons later by the erosion of the cliff.

The footprints, each half a meter long belong to adult animals of different sizes. They predate the Tyrannosaurus Rex, but Albertosaurus and Daspletosaurus ancestors of Rex once roamed foothills east of the Rocky Mountains.

The discovery also provides valuable new information on how tyrannosaurs moved.

"Their gait was very narrow, with very little rotation of the foot", McCrea noted. "It's quite an efficient locomotion: very long strides, almost 4m.

"We had no idea they walked like that," he said.

"There's been speculation about their biomechanics but prior to the discovery of these trackways, all we had were bones, and theories about how their joints rotated and so on.

"Now we have trackways that we can use to put those hypotheses to the test.

"That's the next step."
Read more on:    canada  |  palaeontology  |  dinosaurs

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.