Spinosaurus vs. T-Rex: Who Would Win?

This article is about the epic battle portrayed in films like Jurassic Park 3 and in the minds of dino fans everywhere: T-Rex vs. Spinosaurus.

For the longest time, Tyrannosaurus rex has been heralded as the king of dinosaurs, but in the minds of science fiction lovers, Rex’s supremacy has been challenged by the larger, yet lighter, Spinosaurus.

Meet the King – Tyrannosaurus rex

Rex” means king, and Tyrannosaurus rex has taken the imagination of humans since they were little kids, imagining epic battles between it and the horned Triceratops. Tyrannosaurus rex, a therapod dinosaur (which would later evolve into birds), has reigned as a king of sorts in the imaginations of humans ever since its first discovery in 1874. (Breithaupt)

Tyrannosaurus rex stood about 42 feet tall, (Erickson) and weighed 7 to 8 tons. (Sue’s) T. rex was bulky, with a massive muscular neck holding a gigantic, five-foot head with jaws filled with bone-crushing, 12-inch long teeth. Tyrannosaurus rex’s jaws are among the scariest things ever produced through natural evolution, but its teeth are relatively blunt compared to other carnivorous dinosaurs. That’s because they were meant to crush bone. T. rex likely killed its prey instantly with one spine-crushing bite into the spinal column, and subsequently tore huge chunks of bone and flesh, swallowing both. (Discovery)

A peculiar feature of T. rex is its relatively puny arms relative to the rest of its body. Measuring a little over three feet long and comprising of two claws, they’re a sort of mystery for paleontologists. Despite their small size, these arms were surprisingly strong and meant to bear a heavy load, possibly to help lift the T. rex from a prone position. (Newman)

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The Challenger – Spinosaurus

Spinosaurus means “spine lizard”, referring to the large sail-shaped configuration along the Spinosaurus’s spine. (Creisler) It was first discovered in 1910, but its remains were destroyed during World War 2. (Stromer) It wasn’t until the 1980s that paleontologists were able to match new specimens to the drawings of the original specimen from 1910. (Buffetaut) A few years later, Spinosaurus became popularized by the 2001 movie Jurassic Park 3, which featured a fight between it and a T. rex, where Spinosaurus emerged victorious. Spinosaurus lived about 97 million years ago. (Smith)

Paleontologists are currently debating on whether a live Spinosaurus had a sail feature (like Dimetrodon), or if it was a hump. (Bailey) Spinosaurus was about 59 feet, making it almost 20 feet longer than T. rex, but it weighed perhaps six tons, which is less than the average T. rex. Its skull is sleek and looks almost like a crocodile’s skull. Like the T. rex, the jaws were filled with teeth but the difference is that they were relatively sharp, straight, and conical – and much like a crocodile its teeth interlocked between the upper and lower jaw. The teeth were smaller then T. rex’s, at about five inches. (Dal Sasso)

Similar to crocodiles, it is thought that Spinosaurus lived in shallow water, because its raised nostrils and flat head; and may have lived off a diet of fish as well as small or medium-sized prey. Unlike T. rex, Spinosaurus’s arms weren’t puny, they actually were proportional to its size and had three long claws that could have been used for slashing.

The Fight

Of course, there is a gulf of time that separates these two dinosaurs, and they roamed different areas of the globe as well. They were not contemporaries in any sense. But if a fight between the two were to happen, T. rex would most likely have the advantage.

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The Jurassic Park 3 fight between the two showed the T. rex start off the fight by clamping down on Spinosaurus’s neck. The fight would have ended right there. Of course, it would’ve been too short for an epic battle. What would happen is T. rex would clamp down on the Spinosaurus‘s neck with enough force to bite through a steel oil drum. The teeth were designed to bite through armor, muscle, and bone; if the T. rex shook its head while clamped down it would just be overkill. Spinosaurus, at best, might get a lucky shot in with its claws and sever an artery.

Sources

Bailey, J.B. (1997). “Neural spine elongation in dinosaurs: sailbacks or buffalo-backs?”. Journal of Paleontology 71 (6): 1124–1146.

Breithaupt, Brent H.; Elizabeth H. Southwell and Neffra A. Matthews (2005-10-18). “In Celebration of 100 years of Tyrannosaurus Rex: Manospondylus Gigas, Ornithomimus Grandis, and Dynamosaurus Imperiosus, the Earliest Discoveries of Tyrannosaurus Rex in the West”. Abstracts with Programs. 37. 2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting. Geological Society of America. pp. 406.

Buffetaut, E.; Dauphin, Y.; Jaeger, J.-J.; Martin, M.; Mazin, J.-M.; and Tong, H. (1986). “Prismatic dental enamel in theropod dinosaurs”. Naturwissenschaften 73: 326−327

Creisler, B. (7 July 2003). “Dinosauria Translation and Pronunciation Guide S”. Retrieved 3 September 2010.

Dal Sasso, C.; Maganuco, S.; Buffetaut, E.; and Mendez, M.A. (2005). “New information on the skull of the enigmatic theropod Spinosaurus, with remarks on its sizes and affinities”. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 25 (4): 888–896.

Discovery. Clash of the Dinosaurs: Infamous Jaws. Discovery Video. December 7, 2009

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Erickson, Gregory M., GM; Makovicky, Peter J.; Currie, Philip J.; Norell, Mark A.; Yerby, Scott A.; & Brochu, Christopher A. (2004). “Gigantism and comparative life-history parameters of tyrannosaurid dinosaurs”. Nature 430

Hicks, J.F., Johnson, K.R., Obradovich, J.D., Tauxe, L. and Clark, D. (2002). “Magnetostratigraphy and geochronology of the Hell Creek and basal Fort Union Formations of southwestern North Dakota and a recalibration of the Cretaceous-Tertiary Boundary”, in J.H. Hartman, K.R. Johnson & D.J. Nichols (eds.), The Hell Creek Formation and the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary in the northern Great Plains: An integrated continental record of the end of the Cretaceous. GSA Special Paper, 361: 35-55.

Newman, BH (1970). “Stance and gait in the flesh-eating Tyrannosaurus”. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 2: 119–123

Osborn, H. F. (1905). “Tyrannosaurus and other Cretaceous carnivorous dinosaurs”. Bulletin of the AMNH (New York City: American Museum of Natural History)

Paul, G.S. (1988). “Family Spinosauridae”. Predatory Dinosaurs of the World. New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 271–274.

Smith, J.B.; Lamanna, M.C.; Mayr, H.; and Lacovara, K.J. (2006). “New information regarding the holotype of Spinosaurus aegyptiacus Stromer, 1915”. Journal of Paleontology 80: 400–406

Stromer, E. (1915). “Ergebnisse der Forschungsreisen Prof. E. Stromers in den Wüsten Ägyptens. II. Wirbeltier-Reste der Baharije-Stufe (unterstes Cenoman). 3. Das Original des Theropoden Spinosaurus aegyptiacus nov. gen., nov. spec.”

“Sue’s vital statistics”. Sue at the Field Museum. Field Museum of Natural History. . Retrieved 2007-09-15.

Therrien, F.; and Henderson, D.M. (2007). “My theropod is bigger than yours…or not: estimating body size from skull length in theropods”. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 27 (1): 108–115.

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