The important part of the story is that the tooth is embedded in a piece of tailbone that has healed over. In other words, a T. rex bit the tail of a duckbill dinosaur hard enough its tooth broke off. The duckbill, however, escaped and lived long enough that its bones healed, likely over a period of a few years.
That’s quite a story to come from one fossil.
“We were giddy like school kids,” Burnham said to CNN. “This now returns T. rex (to the ranks of) a predator. So the monsters we see in dinosaurs are real. They did go chasing after things, kill them and eat them. They actively pursued their prey.”
The analysis of the special fossil was worthy of publication in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
I’m left with two thoughts. One is that I’m glad T. rex no longer roams the land. Even as a scavenger he seemed worthy of our nightmares, and as a predator he is over the top. The other is that 8-year olds everywhere can rejoice with the news they were right about the giant beast all along.
Dr. E. Kirsten Peters is the author of “Planet Rock Doc.” This column is a service of the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences at Washington State University. Peters can be reached at rockdoc.wsu.edu and on Twitter @RockDocWSU.