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Is Tyrannosaurus Rex A Raptor? The Dromaeosaurid Predators

When we hear dinosaurs, one of the first names that pop up in mind is Tyrannosaurus rex or T-Rex for short. It is a famous dinosaur because of its reputation as a powerful predator in movies like Jurassic Park, together with the smaller yet faster raptors. T-Rex and raptors have the same predatory traits, they are more often than not confused about belonging to the same family, but the evidence says otherwise. 

Is Tyrannosaurus rex a raptor? Tyrannosaurus rex is not a raptor but instead a close relative. They belong to different families, T-rex to Tyrannosauridae while raptors to Dromaeosauridae. Both T-rex and these smaller velociraptors are known to be where modern birds have descended. 

Both T-rex and raptors are usually included in the top list of vicious predators exhibiting tremendous abilities for a hunter. With these two having seemingly the same behavior, you might also be curious if T-rex is a part of the raptor family. Here, we will discuss the difference between the two, their possible interaction and coexistence during this time. This way, we can be convinced if they are related or not based on evidence. 

What Is The Difference Between a T-Rex and A Raptor? A Look At The T. Rex Classification and Phylogeny

T-rex and raptors share similarities, Maybe these were not apparent in size, but they have unique traits that can make you say they are related. Here are some of those:

is-T_rex-a-raptor-AdventureDinosaurs

T-Rex Versus Raptors: Similarities and Differences

T-rex and raptors have the same body makeup, an elongated body with a tail and long neck. They also have claws on both feet and arms, although their claws and appendages differ in size.

They also have giant mouths studded with sharp teeth capable of ripping apart their prey’s flesh. They also quite have the same roar of sound and simultaneously appeared in the Jurrasic period. 

Generally, raptors are smaller than T-Rex, but some raptor species, especially the big Utahraptor, are also significant with retractable claws that can grow up to 24 centimeters.

T-Rex Characteristics and Classification

The term “rex” means king in Latin, reflecting the ferocious trait of this dinosaur associated with this name. It is one of the famous theropod dinosaurs that lived throughout what is now called North America. 

YouTube Video About Tyrannosauroidea Dinosaur Size Comparison

YouTube video by Prehistoric Paddock which compares the different sizes of tyrannosaurids – AdventureDinosaurs

It is widely distributed with its fossils found in many rock formations dating back to the Cretaceous compared to other tyrannosaurid species. It is also the last non-avian dinosaur that existed before one of the great mass extinctions. It is famous for its strong jaw force that renders a solid bite to its prey or enemy. 

Its body can be described as bulky with a massive head with a body length that can reach 40ft and around 13ft tall. It has asymmetrical limbs with powerful, larger hind limbs and shorter front limbs that have two claws. It can weigh up to 14 tons or around 12,000 kilograms, equivalent to two to three average loaded delivery trucks or an adult elephant. (Source)

Despite the notion that the movie Jurassic park gave us that they might be slow runners because of their body size, research showed that they are among the dinosaurs with a good leg length that indicates that they might not only be built for power but also speed.

Being the largest carnivore on land, it was considered an apex predator, which means that it has no natural predator. Its classification is quite problematic, with other discovered species being grouped with it. 

As of now, it is under the superfamily Tyrannosauroidea that also includes Asian Tarbosaurus, and that is sometimes referred to as the Asian representative of Tyrannosaurus rex. It also has a T. rex’s smaller cousin named Gorgosaurus. 

Furthermore, it is under Class Archosauria and is a bipedal carnivore. Like other common dinosaur species, it is also a reptile expressly referred to as a “tyrant lizard.”

Raptors – Velociraptor and Dromaeosauridae

Aside from T-Rex, other notable dinosaurs like velociraptors and Dromaeosauridae are worthy of attention. These are also somehow similar to T-rex in terms of existence and habits.

Dromaeosauridae: The Running Lizards

Despite being a lizard, T-Rex does not belong to the dromaeosauridae family. Rather, it belongs to another family, the tyrannosauridae. It is no wonder, though, because both families share similar characteristics. 

YouTube Video About The Dromaeosauridae Predatory Evolution

YouTube video by William Moores which discusses all about Dromaeosauridae and the special adaptations that made them fearsome predators – AdventureDinosaurs

Dromaeosauridae is composed of feathered carnivorous dinosaurs that are generally small-medium-sized. The family name means “running lizard” and is commonly called the raptors. They have this bird-like appearance that makes them apart from other dinosaurs. This appearance somehow showed that they are the ancestors of modern-day birds with many standard features. Their fossils have been found globally in Africa, Europe, Antarctica, and North and South America.  

Dromaeosauridae has many subfamilies but is not assigned yet because of the lack of well-preserved fossils and specimens. One of the identified dromaeosaurids is the subfamily Velociraptorinae where the famous Velociraptor belongs. (Source)

Velociraptor: The Famous Raptor Representative

In Jurassic Park, velociraptors are known for their small yet very swift and agile hunters and runners. They lived approximately 75 million years ago or during the late part of the Cretaceous period. 

It is a unique raptor because of its feather-like morphological structure covering its body, standard in Dromaeosauridae with a crescent-shaped claw in the back limbs that are hypothesized to tear their prey apart easily. 

Velociraptor, in direct terms, is a Dromaeosauridae. It is even theorized to be the most intelligent among other dinosaurs because of its relatively advanced hunting abilities that can work in packs to attack prey. Its encephalization quotient is also higher where it shows a large brain proportionate to its size. They stand on two legs and are aggressive, quick-moving predators. (Source)

It is around 7 kg in weight and 1.8 m tall moved with its two powerful legs with fossils mainly found in Mongolia and named by Osborn in 1924.

It is described to be a turkey-sized dinosaur. Amidst the presence of feathers, their arms are too short to allow them to glide. 

Velociraptors appear more prominent in the movie than their actual size, with a scaly body patterned with Deinonychus, another dromaeosaurid species. This feature, though, is not as close to its authentic appearance, according to researchers. 

With the recent findings of scientists on the actual Velociraptor morphology, you can probably forget for a while what you learned about this dinosaur in the Jurassic Park movies. 

Did T-Rex Eat Raptors? Did These Dinosaurs Coexist?

Knowing the uniqueness of T-Rex and raptors, it is essential to know if they existed simultaneously and learned to coexist with each other. It might also be possible that one may have eaten the other. 

T-Rex Diet: The Inclusion of Raptors in The Menu

Again, T-Rex is a ferocious predator, and it has all the means and abilities to hunt any prey item they like, including other dinosaurs on the menu. We can say that a T-Rex can eat anything it wants. It is not just a meat lover but also a scavenger that can munch on carcasses, leaving no good meat behind.

The known primary food in its diet is hadrosaurids dinosaur and triceratops, which are large-bodied plant-eaters. Since they are also large prey items, it takes the T-Rex the right timing or taking them by surprise to chew on this species. 

Having shorter arms, they rely mainly on their jaw and neck muscles to scour prey’s meat, just like what is observed in the modern-day crocodiles.

T-Rex, based on evidence, was able to attack and eat herbivorous dinosaurs, and there is no proof to date that they included raptors in their menu. Indeed, an encounter of the two will cause trouble, being both top predators of the food chain. 

In an ecological and behavioral view, though, they will not attack each other unless there are pressures such as territorial fights or food scarcity present in the area. 

The Existence of T-Rex and Velociraptor at the Same Time

Both species exist in the Cretaceous period. However, T-Rex was recorded in North America, while raptors are known to exist in Mongolia. They may have lived and coexisted at a certain period, but they were on the opposite sides of the world. It makes their encounter less likely unless they were able to travel large distances. 

In 2013, a raptor fossil was discovered by a team from the University of Alberta spearheaded by Phil Currie that may have coexisted with T-Rex and triceratops. seeIt is named Acheroraptor temertyorum, a bipedal; meat-eater that is a close cousin of the Velociraptor. (Source)

Based on this evidence, the two might have lived with T-Rex until the end of the Cretaceous period. It was also found in the Hell Creek formation in Montana, where T-Rex fossils were also found.

The Acheroraptor, according to findings, might have lived around 66 million years ago in the west part of North America that makes it the youngest and most recent member of Dromaeosauridae.

Conclusion

We think it is pretty clear now that the T-Rex was indeed an apex predator in its time. It relied primarily on its morphological traits best for efficient hunting of prey. Along with other apex predators in the dinosaur’s time, they dominated the habitat they lived in. Do not get these apex predators wrong, though. They may be ferocious, but they played a significant part in the ecosystem and history of the world back then and until now.