Tyrannosaurs roamed Earth in terrifying packs, suggests boneyard find

The colossal carnivores may have dominated the planet in tyrannical teams.

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2 min read

T. rexes, similar to this life-size model at the American Museum of Natural History, may have hung around the Cretaceous in gangs. 

D. Finnin/AMNH

Recent research suggests billions of Tyrannosaurus rexes roamed our ancient planet over their reign of a few million years. As if that weren't enough to delete the Late Cretaceous Period from all future time machine destinations, a new study suggests the most feared of the thunder lizards may have hunted in packs like wolves.

There's been some debate among scientists over whether Tyrannosaurs were solitary predators or ruled their domain in groups that would have made the sneaky velociraptor gangs from Jurassic Park seem like puny wannabes.

A fossil site in Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument that was first excavated in 2014 contains remains from multiple Tyrannosaurs, seemingly boosting the notion of packs.

"This supports our hypothesis that these tyrannosaurs died in this site and were all fossilized together; they all died together, and this information is key to our interpretation that the animals were likely gregarious in their behavior," said Celina Suarez, a University of Arkansas associate professor of geosciences and one of the scientists who made the finding, in a statement.

A team that also included scientists from the US Bureau of Land Management, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Colby College of Maine and James Cook University in Australia has published a study in the journal PeerJ examining the unique bone site called the Rainbows and Unicorns Quarry. 

The team went through a painstaking process of excavation and analysis of the site and its fossils to show that they'd found the remains of four or five tyrannosaurids who lived -- or, at least, died -- together.

"Undoubtedly, this group died together, which adds to a growing body of evidence that tyrannosaurids were capable of interacting as gregarious packs," added paleontologist Philip Currie, who isn't a co-author of the study but helped pioneer the idea that the extinct terrors could have been social.

More analysis is planned in the hopes of further strengthening the case that T. rex and friends were perhaps the most intimidating clique to ever roam our planet's playground.