Specimen size: approx 25mm long 13mm wide
Daspletosaurus means 'frightful lizard' in Greek. The species name torosus is Latin for 'muscular'.
Daspletosaurus torosus was a theropod, as are all carnivorous dinosaurs. Theropod means 'beast foot', inspired by the very sharply clawed, three-toed feet of these animals.
Stocky and powerful, Daspletosaurus was the king predator of its time, 10 million years older and than T. rex. Up to nine meters long, Daspletosaurus was a formidable beast with heavy bones, a muscular tail and crests above its eyes. It grew by about 400 pounds a year – 10 per cent of its final adult weight.
Daspletosaurus torosus was an enormous animal, almost nine meters in length.
This stocky and powerful meat-eater had the largest teeth of any of the tyrannosaurids, larger even than those of Tyrannosaurus rex. Each tooth was dagger-sharp, curved and saw-edged. Like other tyrannosaurids (those in the family Tyrannosauridae), this species also had a pair of small, two-fingered hands.
Daspletosaurus torosus was built much like T. rex but smaller, with a large skull and a long muscular tail. It had pronounced crests in front of and behind the eyes, giving it a distinctive appearance.
This tyrannosaur was one of the first for which clavicles were described. It was previously thought that tyrannosaurs lacked these bony struts in the shoulder girdle.This dinosaur provides a good example of the research methods used by scientists whereby they build on each other's discoveries to form a conclusion about a related group.
Daspletosaurus torosus lived near a coastal plain with meandering rivers and streams during the Late Cretaceous Period, 77-74 million years ago, in what is now western North America. Lowland areas were swampy and upland areas were forested. The climate was seasonal, warm and temperate. Other animals from the area included fish and crocodiles (found near the ancient coastline), amphibians, turtles, carnivorous dinosaurs like dromaeosaurs and troodontids, and plant-eating ceratopsians, hadrosaurs and ankylosaurs.
Feeding and diet
With its formidable teeth and jaws, clawed feet, and sheer bulk, Daspletosaurus torosus was easily capable of killing even the largest of its herbivorous prey. It is considered to be the king predator of its time. Daspletosaurus torosus was the first tyrannosaur for which gut contents were identified - dinner was a duck-billed hadrosaur.
Daspletosaurus is know to have co-existed with another tyrannosaur, Gorgosaurus.Scientists believe they probably adopted different feeding strategies, or hunted different prey, in order to 'share' resources.
Other behaviours and adaptations
There is fossil evidence that Daspletosaurus was either prey, or dinner, to others of its own species, or to other large predators. One individual has a tooth (its owner is yet to be identified) embedded in the right hip and a part of the hip appears to have been chomped out. Teeth marks were also found along the tail and on the foot, suggesting the feeding animal tried to pull its meal around or remove the leg.
Some specimens of Daspletosaurus torosus also have facial injuries from fights with other tyrannosaurs. The injuries had healed, so the animal survived the bite. The bites may have come from another species, but such fighting over food or mating rights is common within predatory species.