Tyrannosaurid Paleobiology

Tyrannosaurid Paleobiology

Tyrannosaurid Paleobiology

Tyrannosaurid Paleobiology


The opening of an exhibit focused on "Jane," a beautifully preserved tyrannosaur collected by the Burpee Museum of Natural History, was the occasion for an international symposium on tyrannosaur paleobiology. This volume, drawn from the symposium, includes studies of the tyrannosaurids Chingkankousaurus fragilis and "Sir William" and the generic status of Nanotyrannus; theropod teeth, pedal proportions, brain size, and craniocervical function; soft tissue reconstruction, including that of "Jane"; paleopathology and tyrannosaurid claws; dating the "Jane" site; and tyrannosaur feeding and hunting strategies. Tyrannosaurid Paleobiology highlights the far ranging and vital state of current tyrannosaurid dinosaur research and discovery.


J. Michael Parrish and Ralph E. Molnar

Tyrannosaurus rex is assuredly the dinosaur with the greatest public visibility, and it has been cast as a heavy in countless films dating back to Harry Hoyt’s (1925) adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s (1912) Lost World. However, as of 1980, only seven specimens of the dinosaur were known (Larson 2008). in the last three decades, this number has swelled at least sevenfold (Larson 2008), and our knowledge of the relationships, anatomy, and biology of T. rex and its close relatives has expanded dramatically both through new specimens coming to light and through a plethora of analytical studies. This volume had its genesis in a conference held in Rockford, Illinois, on September 16–18, 2005, titled “The Origin, Systematics, and Paleobiology of Tyrannosauridae,” and jointly sponsored by the Burpee Museum of Natural History and Northern Illinois University. the symposium was held in conjunction with the development of the Burpee’s new dinosaur hall, the centerpiece of which was a skeletal reconstruction of “Jane” (BMR P2002.4.1), a relatively complete and very well preserved specimen of a juvenile tyrannosaur recovered by the Burpee Museum in 2002 from Carter County, Montana, and now mounted on display at the museum.

This was one of two tyrannosaur symposia that year, the other held at the Black Hills Natural History Museum in Hill City, South Dakota. the proceedings of that meeting have already been published by Indiana University Press as Tyrannosaurus rex, the Tyrant King (Larson and Carpenter 2008).

The initial motivation for the Burpee meeting was the relevance of “Jane” on the status of Nanotyrannus lancensis as either a valid taxon or a juvenile specimen of Tyrannosaurus rex. the ambit of the symposium, however, was broader and also included other issues of tyrannosaur paleobiology. of the 30 presentations given, 8 concentrated on tyrannosaur ontogeny, 21 on other aspects of tyrannosaur paleobiology, and 1 each about dating (“Jane”) and about Barnum Brown. a few contributions to this volume did not appear at the meeting and were included afterward. the results of some of the presentations given at the meeting have already appeared elsewhere (Erickson et al. 2004, 2006; Schweitzer et al. 2005a, 2005b; Snively and Russell 2007a, 2007b, 2007c; Sereno and Brusatte 2009; Witmer and Ridgley 2010).

“Jane” (BMR P2002.4.1) has been identified as a juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex and may bear on the question of whether the type skull of Nanotyrannus is also a juvenile. Nanotyrannus lancensis was originally described as species of Gorgosaurus by Gilmore (posthumously) in 1946.

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