STL Science Center

STL Science Center

13 December 2016

Tyrannosaur Paper Trail

The study of Tyrannosaurus has been conducted across fields, disciplines, and a rather immense amount of time (considering the field of paleontology). This is a normal situation for an animal that is intriguing for a variety of reasons. Many of the reasons that Tyrannosaurus are intriguing is the mysterious nature of so much of its anatomy. The biomechanics of running and walking, feeding, the skeleton as a whole, and Tyrannosaurus forelimbs, for a few simple examples, have been discussed and studied intensely for years and the emerging pictures of how these systems interacted is now showing a complex animal with amazing capabilities and life history. Recent advances in science have allowed us to look at not only the skeleton of this (and other) dinosaurs, but also the soft tissue, which is revealing even more about Tyrannosaurus that is awe inspiring and astounding. These soft tissue analyses have included studies of cellular preservation as well as protein analyses. These practices have led to findings that suggest the reproductive state, and as such corroborate sex determination based on skeletal tissues, of T. rex specimens based on soft tissue evidence like medullary tissues. Such analyses have not been without critics and this is to be expected as skepticism is a way of life in science.

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