Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Tyrant Lizard King of the Dinosaurs Lives?

Tyrannosaurus rex (T. rex) , the Tyrant Lizard King has long been thought of as the most terrifying dinosaur to ever roam the planet. Bipedal, 13ft tall (at the hips), 42ft in length, possessing a mouth full of teeth as long as 12 inches, and built like a classic theropod, it's no wonder his discoverers thought him a king.

T. rex Skull

T. rex's reputation has wavered little even with the discovery of fellow theropods larger then the King, such as Giganotosaurus and Spinosaurus, although the latter's size is still up for debate. Even with larger rivals old Rexy is still regarded as the King of the dinosaurs amongst many, and it's a reputation well played out in movies such as Jurassic Park.

Oddly despite being seemingly designed for to be a dinosaur hunting machine, some paleontologists believe T. rex may have been nothing more then a scavenger, much like todays vultures, only on the ground with big...really let's admit it, there is no way he was just strictly a scavenger. Odds are that like most predatory animals T. rex was an opportunistic hunter. That means that pretty much he would hunt for food, but if he found a fresh corpse or a weaker predators kill (even fellow Rexes probably) he wouldn't pass up the opportunity for an easy meal.

Now Tyrannosaurus had other family members running around the world before and during his reign. These family members have been given the convenient name of Tyrannosauridae and they ranged over both North America and Asia. However in the last century an interesting report came out of Africa. It seems that in 1932 a man named John Johnson had a strange encounter in the Kasai Valley of what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo while hunting.

Mr. Johnson claimed that as he was about to shoot a rhinoceros when a 42ft long reptile burst out of the trees and killed John Johnson's would be trophy. His servant ran for his life while Mr. Johnson promptly fainted (If you believe that T. rex's vision is based on movement like in Jurassic Park, it might work. However that bit of the movie was fictional...sorry to disappoint) only to come to later and see the creature chowing down on the rhino. John described the beast as looking like a Tyrannosaurus, as you probably already knew by now, which has since been labeled Kasai rex.

The problem however is this; Tyrannosaurs (or Tyrannosauridae) did not roam Africa, or at least there is no fossil evidence that they did. Adding to this is the fact that there is absolutely no evidence of the creatures existence other then this account and a newspaper article describing a virtually similar incident without a name for the witness. There are also apparently two photos of said beast floating around out there, however one shows nothing more then a picture of a monitor lizard pasted onto a jungle scene and the other that supposedly shows a T. rex eating a rhino doesn't seem to exist other then in a fake and copyrighted form.

The one in the second photo looks much like this one from an old movie.
It's posture is incorrect though. In fact T. rex stood much like the one in Jurassic Park.

If you don't want to dismiss Kasai rex as nothing more then some hunters telling tall tales, you can assume that perhaps it was indeed an African dwelling theropod not related to Tyrannosaurus, such as Cacharodontosaurus who was native at least to North Africa, and as large, if not larger then the King. Like all rumored surviving dinosaurs (excluding birds of course) it is doubtful that it exists at all, but as many like to say Africa would be one of the best places for one to survive if one did.

Sources and Further Reading:
Kasai Rex - Wikipedia
Kasai Rex - Some geocities site about why it's a hoax
Kasai Rex - True Authority (seems them creationists try and tote it around as evidence that they are right.)
Tyrannosaurus - Wikipedia


Raptor Lewis said...

Impossible! The only remnants of the dinosaurs are their fossils and their small avian counterparts.

For the most part, your post about Tyrannosaurus rex is correct. However note that the theropod was actually about 18 feet tall and about 40 feet long. It had a bite force of at least a thousand pounds per square inch and it's teeth were NOT knife-like. It's teeth were, in fact, serrated on both sides but they were thick and were better for crushing bone than slicing through flesh and muscle. Also note the binocular vision and the LARGE olfactory lobe of it's brain. And, while you're at it, please as bird-like and NOT reptilian. T-rex was "built like a 4-ton chicken." (Dinosaur George's Ultimate T-rex)

Raptor Lewis said...

And, Naveed? Put it's "scientific name" in italics and leave the "r" in "rex" lower case. Just a little Taxonomic reminder.

Naveed said...

Lol. Well the "reptile like" part was the way the person who "saw" the Kasai rex described it, so that's why I said it that way. I'd go with birdlike myself like you said.

Oh and thanks for the taxonomic reminder. I know little about the whole taxonomic bit. :D

Naveed said...

Oh yeah, the size inaccuracies...blame wikipedia...most people who edit that don't always do good on accuracy lol.

Raptor Lewis said...

You're welcome.

As for his account, the size could have been exagerrated out of fear and shock as there are a number of large predators in the Congo. Some of them may be large lizards like monitor lizards and such. Even crocs could possible grow that long.