Billions of T-Rexes? Fuhgeddaboudit

By John Salak


Not sure why this is important, but the news is hard to shake. The University of California, Berkeley just reported that at least 2.5 billion Tyrannosaurus rexes once roamed the Earth. That’s right, 2.5 billion. That’s like twice the human population currently hanging out in China.

Okay, not all these meat-munching terrors were poking around at the same time. The T-Rex species, after all, had a very nice run of some 2.5 million years. But still, the UC-Berkeley peeps estimate that “about 20,000 adult T-Rexes probably lived at any one time, give or take a factor of 10.” Let’s hold off on that “give or take a factor of 10” for a minute and stay with the 20,000 number.

That’s a lot of freaking scary dinosaurs running around. Think of Jurassic Park on steroids if that’s even possible. In comparison, right now there are only an estimated 4,000 wild tigers running around and maybe, MAYBE 20,000 lions. Another comparison, there are probably fewer wolves prowling around North America these days than T-Rexes two million years ago.

Let’s face it. People may cherish lions, tigers and wolves but nobody really wants to encounter one of these buggers in a jungle or forest. Dorothy, the scarecrow and tin man were not about lions, tigers (and bears) at all as they swished and dished down the Yellow Brick Road. Chances are that neither they nor their cowardly lion buddy would want anything at all to do with stumbling across a T-Rex on their way to Oz.

Okay, got it. Since these menacing dinosaurs lived over two million years ago, there was no way that Dorothy, her friends or anyone else were going to bump into a T-Rex. But still, that 2.5 billion number is astounding.

The T-Rex was not only wet-your-pants scary, but it was also freakin’ big. Your run of the mill T-Rex weighed in at between 10 and 15 metric tons. This big boy, not surprisingly, had a substantial appetite, like 80 times the average person. This means that these dudes needed to consume 200,000 calories a day and they weren’t vegans. They ate meat, like about 310 pounds of flesh every day and chances are they weren’t too picky about where it came from.

Obviously, given their munching habits, it was never a good idea for any other creature to consider just hanging out with these eating machines.

Sure, sure, sure, this is curious and is great conversation tidbit. But these 2.5 billion T-Rexes took a powder a long time ago. Still, admit it, the concept is hard to shake. And if you want to make the idea of T-Rex nation even thornier, circle back to the UC-Berkeley report.

That 2.5 billion number is only the mid-point of a projected range. That number and the additional 20,000 regularly active dinosaur could scale up or down by a factor of 10. Don’t worry, we’ll do the math or at least UC Berkeley will.

These scholars claim there is a 95 percent chance the actual number of T-Rexes is hiding in that factor of 10 range, which means that on the low end there were only 1,300 of these buggers running around at any one time for a total of 140 million over 2.5 million years.

Of course, it also means that there could have been as many as 328,000 of these dinosaurs hanging out daily during their reign for a grand total of 42 billion.

Think about it. That’s a lot of dinosaurs no matter when they lived. Now, try to forget about it.

 


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