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Can A Tyrannosaurus Rex Swim? What We Know From Fossils

The Tyrannosaurus rex is known to be the king of the dinosaurs — at least above water. The underwater title goes to the Spinosaurus, which is more capable of hunting aquatic than any other dinosaur species. However, since the T-rex lived in marshy wetlands and coastal plains near bodies of water, it has been speculated for years by different schools of thought that they might have hunted in and around water for their prey. Some refuse to believe that simply because the T-rex does not have body features that can support their underwater pursuits, if any.

So, can a Tyrannosaurus Rex Swim? Yes, they can swim in water but not with agility enough to catch fish or prey that dived underwater. The reason is that they were not designed for hunting in water for prey effectively in the first place. Their apex predator features are more suitable above water.

In this article, we will discuss the probable reasons why a T-rex would go in the water. We will also talk about the possibilities of the T-rex hunting underwater and how far it could swim if it can swim just like other dinosaur species such as the Spinosaurus. Lastly, we will discuss the different herbivorous dinosaur species that the T-rex might have hunted for food and chased into the water

Why Would a Tyrannosaurus rex Go Into The Water?

Some scientists and paleontologists believe that even though the T-rex has spent its living times on Earth, mostly on land, they might have had chances that required them to go underwater. Here are some of those theories.


They Might Have Gone Into The Water When Hunting Sauropods

The T-rex has spent most of their life on land, but according to some scientists, they might have dabbled with some species that live in the water, or they might have possibly preyed on some of them one way or another.

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Some scientists have concluded that they might have preyed on sauropods.

The scientists see the discoveries in places like New Mexico, Utah, Texas, and even in Mexico have not only proven that sauropods existed in southwestern North America during the very end part of the Cretaceous era, but the pieces of evidence have pointed that the T-rex has been into close contact with sauropods, and may have eaten titanic sauropods at times. (Source)

More About The Potential Prey

The scientists have further named the dinosaur species the Alamosaurus. This dinosaur measured up to 100 feet in length or more, marking the return of the sauropods to North America after thirty million years.

The sauropods are herbivores, making them the best prey choice for Tyrannosaurus rex in this part of the world. They are the only source of fresh meat for the numerous dinosaur species.

These sauropods have arrived northward in the American Southwest, in the modern-day states of Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, and Texas, even reaching down to Mexico. This area was known as the southernmost limit of the Tyrannosaurus, where they and the sauropods might have crossed paths. (Source)

The T-Rex Might Not Have Gone Underwater At All

However, some reasons pointed out that the T-rex might not have swum underwater at any point because of some obvious reasons.

The Tyrannosaurus rex is known to be one of the heaviest dinosaurs that existed, weighing up to 8,000 kilograms at most, or about 11,000 to 15,000 pounds, complete with its skin and flesh on the bones.

With that weight, they would have drowned underwater, and since they do not have the breathing mechanisms as the Spinosaurus has, they might not have survived underwater for long periods.

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Its body shape would have also prevented the T-rex from living underwater for a long time. It is widely believed that the T-rex might have dipped its feet in the water at some point, but they did not go beyond to catch their prey. (Source)

Did T-rex Live In The Water? How Fast Could A T-rex Swim If It Did?

There were reasons why the T-rex would live in the water and why it would not be able to do so. One of the biggest questions is connected to its ability to stay on the water and hunt for prey while they were at it.

It Is Impossible For Them To Live Underwater

Even though the T-rex is known to live in swampy areas, mainly in North and Central America, they could not have swum underwater. However, some scientists believe that they can swim despite their stocky build and sheer weight.

Researchers believe that the Tyrannosaurus rex was surprisingly adept swimmers. According to Scott Persons, who discovered new evidence in China’s Szechuan Province, they saw foot marks belonging to the T-rex stretching 50 feet apart from each other. 

They also believed that they used their claws to scrape the floor underneath the riverbed to support them in propelling forward. They also used their tails to guide them underwater. 

T-rexes also had many air sacs that helped them breathe and lighten their bodies underwater, though it is not enough to allow them to live their lives underwater, similar to what the Spinosaurus have done before. Persons further believe that the T-rex who owned the footprints in the riverbed loved to chase their prey.

So, Can The T-rex Actually Swim Underwater?

To answer the question directly, the answer is no. Even though it looks built enough to be a strong swimmer, it was not nearly fast or agile enough to catch its prey underwater.

The lungs of the T-rex are also geared to help them live more on land rather than underwater, even though they have features that support them in their occasional aquatic activities.

Also, the T-rex would not be able to use their fantastic sense of smell underwater because of obvious reasons. Therefore, the T-rex would not be able to locate their prey efficiently enough underwater.

It is also important to remember that the T-rex was also not fully equipped to kill prey underwater in the first place.

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Their Teeth Would Not Work The Same Underwater

Even though the T-rex is known to have one of the best sets of teeth among many dinosaur species, their teeth would not be of great use underwater if they have to catch prey for food.

To hunt fish, the T-rex must have something to grip them reliably. Unfortunately, the T-rex has pickaxe teeth and is therefore not an efficient hunting tool underwater.

To compare the T-rex to the king of underwater dinosaurs, the Spinosaurus, the Spinosaurus have shorter and sharper teeth, which would help them greatly in their underwater hunting adventures.

We have to remember that prey underwater are slippery to touch, similar to modern-day sea creatures. They are also impossible to grip without the proper mechanisms, so the T-rex cannot hunt for prey underwater effectively.

Recommended Reading

The article you are reading is one of the 17 Series Articles connected to the Ultimate Guide to Tyrannosaurus Rex. Check out the Ultimate Guide or other key Series Articles selected for you at the bottom of the article!

Ultimate Guide to Tyrannosaurus Rex
Main Article – With Links to 17 Series Articles


❖ Read Now! The Ultimate Guide to Tyrannosaurus Rex

The main article in the series, it is packed with information all about the King of the Dinosaurs. it provides information about the first discovery, some of the latest fossil findings, and covers the anatomy of the dinosaur. Following this, it provides a look at the classification and phylogeny. The places, where T. Rex fossils have been found are described and a few of the key fossil skeletons are described. The master article also covers:

—Interesting facts you may not know about T. Rex
—Unanswered questions about the T. Rex
—Links to the Series Articles (17 in total!) which give deeper info on the dinosaur.

Herbivore Dinosaurs That Lived Near The Water and Possibly Were Hunted by T Rex

T-rex ate anything it fancied back then, but it was never clear which types of dinosaurs would have been served to the T-rex as part of their meals. Scientists also unearthed a shocking discovery recently connected to the dinosaur species that they might have eaten throughout their stay here on Earth.

The T-Rex Loved Eating Herbivorous Dinosaurs

It is a broad fact that the T-rex loved eating a wide variety of animals for food, ranging from mammals, birds, and also several herbivorous dinosaur species that coexisted with them during their stay here on Earth.

The T-rex was a substantial carnivorous dinosaur, and it primarily preyed upon herbivorous dinosaurs, such as the Triceratops and the Edmontosaurus.

According to David Burnham, a paleontologist at the University of Kansas, the T-rex might have fed on carcasses, but it was not enough for them, so they had to kill for their prey whenever they got hungry.

In a 2013 study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Burnham and his colleagues have presented evidence that the T-rex hunted food on their own most of the time.

It was a tooth belonging to a T-rex that was embedded in a duckbill dinosaur’s tailbone. This observation meant that a T-rex pursued this dinosaur for food, but the duckbill dinosaur got away with it, and the tooth got embedded on the tailbone as it healed. (Source)

The T-rex Would Have Also Eaten Their Own

Most people would think that there might have been a chance that the T-rex might have considered eating its species, or it might have happened in real life. This discovery might be scary to admit, but scientists have found signs that the T-rex could have been a cannibal and were capable of preying for each other.

Discoveries unearthed by Nicholas Longrich of Yale University have led them to the theory that the T-rex might have eaten its species, based on the gashes seen on a bone, which measured the same as that of a T-rex.

It could have been mistaken to be done by another animal, but no other more prominent dinosaur species have existed in the vicinity during the timeline presented by the bones. Therefore, this established the fact that a T-rex can also be a threat to its kind.

However, back in 2010, Longrich was confused if the T-rex marks were caused by a T-rex fending on carcasses or if it might have killed another T-rex and turned into its meal to celebrate its victory.

Five years later, scientists have discovered much more substantial evidence leading to the fact that the T-rex had eaten each other at times.

A set of 66-million-year-old scrapes on a T-rex limb bone found in Wyoming presented that a T-rex made these marks since it is the only dinosaur species that can do this to the other T-rex, given how it was the only more prominent dinosaur species that time. It was also further supported by more teeth marks found on the other T-rex fossils discovered in Wyoming.


Tyrannosaurus rex has earned the title ‘king of the dinosaurs’ among many other dinosaur species that roamed around the Earth back then. However, even though they were beastlike in their proportions and size, they cannot swim fast and hunt underwater for prey, which other dinosaur species such as the Spinosaurus were known to be good at. 

Scientists also discovered that aside from the other herbivorous dinosaurs, the T-rex was also established to have eaten some of its kind on several occasions. Therefore, when scientists said that the T-rex eats anything, they meant anything it fancied back then.

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