T. rex “lived fast, died young” according to reports in news@nature 11 August 2004 and Nature, vol. 430, p772, 12 August 2004.
As animals grow their bones become thicker by adding extra layers of bone mineral. In present day reptiles such as alligators and lizards it is possible to count growth rings in the bones and estimate the age of animal. This doesn’t work for mammals and birds because they rebuild their bones as they grow and form hollow centres inside them.
T. rex leg bones are also hollow, but some of their non-weight bearing bones are solid. Gregory Erickson of Florida State University and colleagues studied layers in T. rex ribs and similar dinosaurs to estimate how fast they grew and how old they were when they died. Their estimates of growth rate were based on the thickness of the layers – thicker layers indicate more rapid growth, and the overall size of each dinosaur.
They concluded T. rex went through a very rapid growth spurt during its teenage years, during which it gained weight at approximate 2kg per day – about the same rate as an African elephant during its growth spurt. T. Rex’s’ outermost bone layers were thin and densely packed, indicating that it grew very slowly after this massive growth spurt. They concluded the youngest specimen studied was two years old when it died, and the oldest was 28.
Editorial Comment: The conclusions drawn from this research are based on the assumptions that present reptile growth rates are the key to understanding past extinct reptiles, and that each bone layer represents one year of the animal’s life. This may be true in present day animals that live in seasonal climates and do not grow during winter, but it may not be true about animals that lived in a more uniform climate such as described in Genesis. If T. rex did grow at this rapid rate there must have been a consistent and abundant food supply.
Other studies of T. rex indicate that it was too large to run fast so it was most unlikely to be eating live prey during the later stages of the growth spurt after it reached 1,000Kg (2,200lbs). Even if T. rex became a scavenger, this would not have been a reliable source of food for such a huge animal, so these studies add weight to the Biblical claim that animals all started vegetarian then some became scavengers and finally carnivores, and eventually extinct. (Compare Genesis 1:30 with Genesis 7:2 and Genesis 9:3-5)
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