May 26th, 2024

T. Rex an intelligent tool-user and culture-builder? Not so fast, says new research

By The Canadian Press on April 26, 2024.

A representation of a Tyrannosaurus Rex stands in the "Age the Dinosaurs" Gallery at the Royal Ontario Museum, in Toronto, Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

EDMONTON – Recent research suggested a truly horrifying thought – that T. Rex, perhaps the most fearsome predator to walk the earth, was also smart enough to use tools, hunt in packs and pass down knowledge.

But a new paper throws cold water on those dinosaur fever dreams.

A year ago, an American researcher published a peer-reviewed paper that compared fossils of Tyrannosaurus brain cases to modern reptiles and birds and concluded the ancient hunters had brainpower equivalent to that of modern-day baboons.

A new paper is questioning almost all the assumptions made in that earlier work.

Co-author Cristian Gutierrez, a University of Alberta neuroscientist, says the previous paper far overestimated the size of the T. Rex brain.

And besides, he says, more neurons don’t mean more intelligence.

He says Tyrannosaurs probably had smarts closer to those of a crocodile than a primate, so rest easy. If the thought of a seven-tonne crocodile makes you rest easy.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 26, 2024.

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