The prevailing theory among paleontologists about the hunting style of Tyrannosaurus rex and its cousins has long held that these dangerous dinos hunted alone. After all, fossils have revealed that this species had an unfortunate habit of biting each other’s heads.
But multiple tyrannosaur tracks found in the Canadian Rockies indicate these predatory ancient reptiles actually may have hunted in packs—at least some of the time. And you know what that means: Jurassic Park was wrong about yet another dinosaur detail. The film series just can’t catch a break.
This much we know: Some 70 million years ago, three tyrannosaurs lumbered across a mud flat by an ancient river in now-Alberta, possibly searching for prey.
Volcanic ash conveniently preserved their footprints, along with those of multiple other types of dinosaurs. But while the other dinosaurs’ tracks point in random directions, the tyrannosaur footprints are all parallel with each other, and were imprinted at about the same depth—which suggests they crossed through at the same time.
Gangs of Convenience
What utility would pack-hunting serve for these already ferocious creatures? According to a co-author of the footprints’ resulting study, they may have "stuck together as a pack to increase their chances of bringing down prey and individually surviving.” Which would mean the tyrannosaurs may have operated just as wolves do to take down other large animals. This better explains how tyrannosaurs killed comparably-sized duck-billed dinosaurs without sustaining major injuries themselves.
So despite their head-biting anti-social behavior, the tyrannosaurs may have found it in their best interest to temporarily put aside their differences to hunt and feast together. Sigh, the onerous trade-offs of blood-thirsty Cretaceous creatures.
So update your nightmares to accordingly include not just one tyrannosaurs hot on your trail . . . but a whole pack!