When you get down to it, there isn't a more famous dinosaur than the Tyrannosaurus rex. But despite its long reign at the top, there's something about the T. rex that you just can't put your finger on. Namely, what on earth did it look like? We at least now know that it didn't look like this ...
After research in the 1970s and onward got us away from a T. rex that dragged its tail along the ground, we've been slowly chipping away at the perfect version of this creature. But even if we can agree that the animal carried itself more like this ...
... what did the rest of it look like? And how did it behave? A pair of recent projects claim to have the answers. And even if they don't agree with each other on everything, we thought they were still worth a look!
Version A: Robust and smooth
The first new look at T. rex is where this post's lead image comes from. Illustrated by paleoartist RJ Palmer, it is the result of a team's dedicated research into what the dinosaur really looked like. Here's a more detailed view for how the structure came together.
Basically, this version is a bit thicker in the limbs and body than the Jurassic Park version. The skin is generally smoother, too, and has none of the feathers that are being seen in more and more recreations of prehistoric carnivores such as Velociraptor. If this interpretation looks a bit strange to you, check out this website where the team explains every decision that went into this version.
Version B: Feathery and rumbly
The second revision of a T. rex is a bit more colourful. A bit more feathery. And a bit more ... rumbly?
Appearing in a recent CBC Nature Of Things doc called The Real T. rex, this reconstruction uses the colours of modern birds and recent theories about dino feathers to present Tristan, a very distinct T. rex. Watch Tristan do his thing below.
These researchers also feel certain that a T. rex could not have run faster than about 16 km/h (1o mph). Which means that famous jeep-chasing scene in the first Jurassic Park could never happen. But that's not the only myth-busting that this team is looking to do. Did you notice something different about Tristan in that video? He didn't roar.
Yep, according to these scientists, a T. rex wouldn't have roared. It kind of makes sense—what modern reptile predators do you know that roar? Instead, it would have produced a spooky rumble. Listen below.
How do YOU see T. rex?
It seems pretty fair to say that until we perfect either a time machine or the cloning of prehistoric animals, we'll never know exactly what this amazing beast looked like or how it behaved. But even when the science doesn't agree, we can't get enough of watching the quest to find the truth.