Tyrannosaurus rex was a species of Theropoda dinosaur in the Late Cretaceous period. Like other tyrannosaurids – such as Tarbosaurus and Gorgosaurus – the T-rex was a bipedal carnivore and apex predator and scavenger, preying on smaller dinosaurs directly or out-muscling them for their kills. Typical prey included hadrosaurs and ceratopsians.
Tyrannosaurus rex’s name translates as ‘tyrant lizard king’ – something that was historically attributed due to its immense size. Indeed, the Tyrannosaurus rex is one of the largest species ever excavated by palaeontologists, with specimens averaging over 12 metres (40 feet) in length and four metres (13 feet) in height, but it wasn’t the biggest carnivorous dino. It was also incredibly heavy with fully grown adults weighing up to nine tons; this figure was suggested in 2011 after an in-depth study which made digital 3D models of five T-rex skeletons.
Due to their considerable size, the Tyrannosaurus rex had very few, if any, predators – a fact that enabled it to remain unchallenged as the Late Cretaceous era’s apex predator on land and to live for lengthy periods. Estimates taken from excavated specimens – of which there are now more than 30 confirmed around the world – indicate that the T-rex’s life span was roughly 30 years, with the majority of growth taking place in the first 16 years before tailing off rapidly. This suggests that the Tyrannosaurus rex would have reached adulthood at approximately 20 years of age.
As with almost all species of Dinosauria, the Tyrannosaurus was wiped out 65.5 million years ago in the Cretaceous-Palaeogene (K-Pg) extinction event. At the time it was one of the last widespread non-avian dinosaurs, as evidenced by the discovery of many specimens throughout North America.