by Elizabeth Gamillo/Smithsonianmag.com
The iconic Tyrannosaurus rex is a ferocious predator with razor-sharp teeth that lived 68 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous period. Despite the dinosaur’s gargantuan popularity in modern media, researchers actually haven’t estimated how many individuals in the species existed during their reign on Earth in total—until now, reports Kenneth Chang for the New York Times.
By using approximations of the fierce dinosaur’s body mass, sexual maturity, and metabolism, scientists now estimate that 2.5 billion T. rexes walked the Earth during its existence, reports Karina Shah for New Scientist. The new study was published this week in the journal Science.
Charles R. Marshall, a University of California, Berkeley paleontologist, was fascinated with the idea of how many of the mega-predators walked the Earth whenever he held a T. rex fossil, reports the New York Times.
“Were there are a million, a billion, a trillion T. rexes? Is this one in a million, one in a billion, one in a trillion? How on earth could we know that number? We all know fossils are rare, but how rare are they? And so it really started with that question,” Marshall tells the New York Times.