We all know how dinosaurs, in general, are huge beasts who feed on everything they lay their eyes on, especially if they are predatory beasts. Some of the things we know today are attributed to the fact that they are big, gigantic, with powerful body features and the ability to prey on smaller animals. However, not all dinosaurs are hunters. Some dinosaurs thrived on hunting and thus are called the best hunters on the planet before their demise.
Which dinosaur was known to be the best hunter? The Allosaurus, the Tyrannosaurus Rex, the Spinosaurus, and the Gigantosaurus are the top four key hunters among dinosaur species. Each is equipped with helpful anatomical features that allow them to be great hunters of their prey. They lived at different times and in different geographies.
This article will discuss the four key hunters of the dinosaurs, including their features and attributes. I will also discuss the features that helped them hunt for their prey. Lastly, we will talk about how the apex predators existed during the dinosaur era, including their survival methods.
Who Is The Apex Dinosaur Predator? – 4 Key Hunters That Took The Title in Their Era and Geography
Four types of dinosaurs are known as apex predators. We are going to discuss each one of them.
The Allosaurus of the Jurassic Era
Though many specimens have been found, Allosaurus is widely accepted by paleontologists and casual dinosaur watchers alike.
This enormous theropod, Utah’s state fossil, lived 155.7 million to 150.8 million years ago, mostly during the late Jurassic Period. In Utah’s Cleveland-Lloyd Quarry, the most prevalent dinosaur fossil found is the Allosaurus.
According to the Bureau of Land Management, about 46 of the 74 dinosaurs discovered at the quarry are Allosaurus specimens. Most Allosaurus fossils ever discovered have originated from the Morrison Formation in Wyoming and Colorado. Allosaurus fossils have also been unearthed in Portugal, Siberia, and Tanzania.
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The Tyrannosaurus Rex of the Cretaceous Era
Also, undoubtedly, T. Rex was the most iconic of all the world’s known carnivorous dinosaurs. There are numerous pop culture instances in which T. Rex is known as the king of dinosaurs, notably his starring role in the “Jurassic Park” franchise.
The animal’s moniker is ‘king of the tyrant lizards’ In Greek, “tyranno” means “tyrant”; “saurus” means “lizard”; and “rex” means “king.” In 1905, American Museum of Natural History president Henry Fairfield Osborn called the animal Tyrannosaurus rex.
Western North America is rich in T. Rex fossils. The findings suggest that T. Rex was a newcomer to North America. When the sea between Asia and North America receded approximately 67 million years ago, the animals may have traveled. According to the researchers, the discovery is still preliminary, and some experts believe T. Rex developed in North America.
Since T. Rex’s two-fingered forearms were so little, it was improbable that it could utilize them to kill or even get food to its mouth. It is possible, though, that T. Rex’s short arms were due to its formidable bite.
To support its massive skull and power its strong bite, the “king of dinosaurs” required thick neck muscles. Neck and arm muscles battle for space in the shoulder, and it seems that in T. Rex’s case, the neck muscles won out over the arm muscles.
Long arms can also be damaged, are susceptible to disease, and require a lot of work to maintain. Therefore the king’s short arms might be advantageous in the long term. (Source)
Spinosaurus: The Water-Borne Dinosaur
The largest known carnivorous dinosaur, Spinosaurus, was longer and heavier than Tyrannosaurus. It had a 1.75-meter (about 6-foot) long skull, a body length of 14–18 meters (46–59 feet), and a mass of 12,000–20,000 kg (13–22 tons).
Spinosaurus, like other spinosaurids, had a long, narrow skull that looked like a crocodile’s with nostrils near the eyes rather than at the end of the snout. It had straight, conical teeth rather than the curved, bladelike teeth found in other theropods.
All of these characteristics are piscivory adaptations (that is, the consumption of fish). Other spinosaurids have been discovered with partially digested fish scales and other dinosaur bones in their stomachs, as well as spinosaurid teeth buried in pterosaur bones.
The Giganotosaurus of South America
Only a few fragmented remains of Giganotosaurus have been discovered. Giganotosaurus was taller, longer, and thinner than Tyrannosaurus rex.
It lived millions of years before Tyrannosaurus rex, in South America rather than North America. Giganotosaurus possessed three fingers on each hand, as opposed to T.rex’s two fingers. It is possible that it hunted Argentinosaurus, a titanosaur sauropod.
During the late Cretaceous period, Giganotosaurus was a carnivore (meat-eating) dinosaur in Argentina between the years 93 and 89 million years ago. Giganotosaurus may grow to be 43 feet (13.2 meters) long, with the largest animals weighing around 6.2 tons.
Titanosaurus, a gigantic Sauropod dinosaur, has been discovered near Giganotosaurus, and it is assumed that Giganotosaurus might have preyed on these herbivores. There is also proof that dinosaurs from the same family as Giganotosaurus hunted in packs, so Giganotosaurus likely did as well. (Source)
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Abilities That Would Make Dinosaurs Good Hunters
Of course, some abilities made these dinosaurs good hunters. Find out more about these here.
Their Brain and Intelligence
Dinosaurs are a well-known hunter species but are considered a little dim-witted. Many species have long been believed to have big skulls filled with protective tissue, leaving little room for the grey matter.
However, new findings of dinosaur endocasts have disrupted how people perceive dinosaurs till now. Fossil endocasts have been found before, but this specimen is notable because the outer millimeters of the brain tissues were mineralized.
It means the fossil records trace fossils of the magnificent structure. Scanning electron microscopy helped us to investigate this structure in great detail. The cortex contains both working neurons and deeper tissues that may have formed a component of it.
Serrated Teeth and Sharp Claws
Tyrannosaurus had teeth that were sharp, somewhat bent rearward, and serrated. The serrations helped slice the meat by grabbing and shredding muscle fibers. People who ate meat chewed or ground their food before swallowing.
Plant-eating Teeth that fit particular diets were shown on dinosaurs. Triceratops had hundreds of teeth that made a strong “wall” with sharp ridges. Teeth were used to sever plants. Another plant-eater, Anatotitan, has broad flat teeth that they utilized to crush difficult material. Diplodocus has pencil-like teeth, which are used to scrape the leaves off branches.
Dinosaurs consumed leaves whole. They also swallowed little stones, called gastroliths, which probably broke up their food for them, just as parrots and chickens do today.
Their Amazing Eyesight and Night Vision
Dinosaurs, reptiles, and early flying creatures from tens of millions of years ago developed excellent eyesight. Specifically, they investigated the eye sockets, which the expert’s claim can disclose a lot about the animals’ vision.
Research from the University of California, Davis, utilized the scleral ring in the eye socket. The scleral ring is composed of bones that support the sclera or the white of the eye. Researchers analyzed the scleral rings of more than 160 species, including birds and reptiles, with established activity patterns.
Day-active animals have a little gap in the middle of the ring. The greater openness of night animals is for more light. Carnivores tend to be nocturnal. (Source)
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Fossil Evidence of Apex Predators Hunting
Some paleontologists have developed key observations by studying the fossil evidence of apex predators.
Apex Predators: On The Top Of The Food Chain
An apex predator is a predator at the top of the food chain, with no natural enemies looking to hunt it.
Trophic dynamics refer to apex predators being at the highest levels of the food chain. Land food chains tend to be limited to secondary consumers (like wolves), who prey mostly on herbivores (primary consumers), who eat vegetation (primary producers).
Predator hierarchy is employed in wildlife management, conservation, and ecotourism. Predatory organisms have a long history extending back to the Cambrian epoch when Anomalocaris ruled the seas.
Dinosaurs as Predators in The Fossil Period
Tyrannosaurs, Allosaurus, and their dinosaur cousins rank among the most common predators in the fossil record. Dinosaurs like theropods (predatory dinosaurs) hunted nearly all other animals, including fish, mammals, reptiles, and even other dinosaurs.
Though several theropod species ranged in size, the recent discovery of gigantic predatory dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus rex (in the early 1900s) has caught the globe’s attention. T. Rex, famous for its jaw and limbs, is one of the most well-known extinct species. (Source)
Contrary to popular belief, dinosaurs also have prey and predator classifications while they existed here on earth. These four dinosaur types are known as the best of the best, with their features and anatomical builds far greater than any of the other dinosaurs. These four dinosaurs have continued to tickle the fancy of many men of science and thus are continuously studying their lives back then.
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● I’ve written a whole article about the size of dinosaurs and their intelligence, which describes why T. Rex is considered the biggest brained dinosaur and one of the most intelligent hunters
● If you are interested in how dinosaurs like sauropods defended themselves, I’ve written an article that explains, how the threat from predators was a constant factor that sauropods needed to be ready for with three key defenses