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Fewer T. rex walked the Earth than previous estimated, new study claims

Published May 18th, 2023 5:29PM EDT
t rex
Image: DM7/Adobe

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The T. rex population may have been smaller than scientists previously estimated, a new study says. The T. rex, or Tyrannosaurus rex if you want to get proper, is believed to have been the king of the dinosaurs at one point or another. Aside from being the driving force behind one of the ’90s most beloved disaster movies, scientists previously estimated up to 2.5 billion T. rex roamed the Earth.

However, this new study says that number was significantly lower, with only around 1.7 billion believed to have existed throughout our planet’s history. The new study making these claims was led by evolutionary ecologist Eva Griebeler, who works with the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz in Germany.

According to Griebeler and her team, the new model is based on information they believe the original researchers who estimated the T. rex population reaching 2.5 billion didn’t factor in. This new information, they say, resulted in a much lower number of T. rex walking the Earth.

Dinosaur Fossil (Tyrannosaurus Rex)Image source: trafa / Adobe

The study was designed to build upon the original team’s work, Charles Marshall, a paleontologist working with the University of California, Berkeley, told Live Science. Marshall was the lead author of the original study. He says his original team used a complex model that relied on average body mass, population density, geographic range, number of eggs, and several other things.

However, Griebeler says that some of the data imputed into the model were disagreeable, believing that Marshall’s team overestimated the survival rates of the T. rex population, as well as their egg-laying capabilities.

All of this is important, of course, because those particular sets of data directly affect just how the researchers estimate how much the overall population would have been estimated. However, Griebeler believes the survival rates and egg-laying capabilities would have been more akin to that of modern birds and reptiles.

Tyrannosaurus Rex skeletonImage source: atm2003 / Adobe

When that data was input, it brought the estimated T. rex population from 2.5 billion to 1.7 billion overall. And that number would be just a maximum of the possible T. rex that roamed the world. The original study, the researchers note, was driven by pure curiosity, and it was the first to estimate how many of these dinosaur kings roamed the Earth. This second study refined everything, though.

If the estimate is to be believed, researchers say we’ve found less than one percent of the remains of all the T. rex population that once roamed our world. That’s a crazy number to think about, especially if claims that the T. rex was three different species are proven true.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.

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