Could Tyrannosaurus rex have been a scavenger rather than a predator? An energetics approach

Graeme D. Ruxton, David C. Houston

Abstract

Arguments on whether Tyrannosaurus rex was likely to have been an active predator or a scavenger have been based on evidence from jaw morphology and/or dentition. Here, we adopt an entirely novel approach, using energetic arguments to estimate the minimum productivity that would be required for an ecosystem to support a scavenger of the size of T. rex. We argue that an ecosystem as productive as the current Serengeti would provide sufficient carrion for such a scavenger. Hence, T. rex need not have been an active predator and could have found sufficient food purely by scavenging.