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Amazing facts about everyone’s favourite dinosaur T. Rex

PUBLISHED: 13:06 02 January 2018 | UPDATED: 13:13 02 January 2018

Chris Packham with the Tristan T. Rex specimen in the Natural History Museum in Berlin (C) Talesmith/Cineflix

Chris Packham with the Tristan T. Rex specimen in the Natural History Museum in Berlin (C) Talesmith/Cineflix

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As Chris Packham presents a programme all about the T. Rex, we find out more about the badass of the dinosaur world (even if it did have puny arms and feathers)

Fans of giant lizards rejoice: naturalist and T. Rex enthusiast Chris Packham has taken a trip back in time to discover the incredible truth about the dinosaur which is secretly everyone’s favourite (silence, Spinosaur fans).

The Tyrannosaurus Rex has endured centuries of scientific inaccuracy and Hollywood misrepresentation, but thanks to groundbreaking studies of dinosaur skin, teeth and musculature, combined with reconstructions of T. Rex’s incredible brain, scientists are redefining this iconic dinosaur.

Was she lizard or bird? Brightly coloured or feathered? A pea-brained scavenger or a sophisticated hunter? I dare you to go up to a T. Rex and accuse it of being a pea-brained scavenger. I DOUBLE dare you.

A gigantic tyrannical lizard with a mouth packed full of razors and the kind of easy-temper you usually associate with a bear annoyed with Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant, the only thing that slowed T Rex down was a 10-mile wide asteroid dropped on earth which caused mass extinction. Without that meteor, we’d all be T. Rex slaves at the whim of our bipedal tyrant lords.

Meeting international experts, Chris will reveal groundbreaking insights into not just what T. Rex looked like but into its behaviour, exposing the real beast behind the myth. With both a new understanding of palaeontology and zoology, and trailblazing technology, Chris then attempts to create the most accurate CGI representation of the T. Rex ever produced. And then he’ll hopefully let it fight Batman or King Kong.

Chris has unique access to ‘Tristan’, one of the most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex fossils in the world, meets Dr Greg Erikson, whose research with alligators is revealing the true power of T Rex’s phenomenal bite and in Dino State Park in Texas, he walks in the footsteps of real and still visible dinosaur footprints.

With the help of Dr Larry Witmer, who uses CT scanning of T. Rex skulls, Chris reveals the predator’s awesome brain and exposes its secrets. Chris travels to Berlin to work with avian palaeontologist ProfessorJulia Clarke to determine just how bird-like this creature would have looked and sounded, even producing the sound it may have made. I bet it sounded like Tom Hardy in Taboo.

And finally, Chris explores the Canadian Badlands, for clues that Canadian expert Dr. Phil Currie believes could blow apart the understanding of T. Rex’s social life…intriguing.

Meanwhile, I don’t think any of us should have to wait to learn some mindblowing T. Rex facts. So here are 10 to whet your appetite. Plus a video of what Jurassic Park would have looked like if everyone had worn high heels.

10 Terrific T. Rex facts:

1) Human teenagers eat a lot - ask anyone who has one with access to their fridge. But spare a thought for T. Rex mothers of teenagers - between the ages of 14 to 18, young T. Rex’s would gain 5lb in weight a day.

2) Jurassic Park’s Jeep chase couldn’t have happened - apologies for bursting that bubble. In order for an animal of T. Rex’s size to run so fast, nearly 90 per cent of its muscles would have needed to be in its legs, which is an anatomical impossibility. Even if you’re Yusain Bolt.

3) Not one entire T.Rex skeleton has been found. The closest is a T.Rex named Sue whose bones were found in South Dakota. She would have weighed nine tonnes and stood more than 13ft tall. Her skeleton is more than 85 per cent complete.

4) An adult male lion’s bite has a force of around 4450 Newtons. A T. Rex could manage around 60,000 Newtons, a bit more than three times as powerful as a Great White Shark.

5) Scientists believe T. Rex’s eyesight was incredibly sharp: possibly even better than that of an eagle. And just like an eagle, some scientists believe that T. Rex was actually covered in six inch long feathers.

6) You’d better hold off laughing at T. Rex’s ‘puny’ arms, just in case we do find ourselves in a Jurassic Park-style scenario and the King Lizard confronts you about what you’ve been saying about its forearms behind its back. According to paleontologists, the T. Rex’s bicep could lift 430lb without breaking a sweat.

7) There is no honour amongst thieves: it is thought that T. Rex may have been a cannibal partial to T. Rex steak with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.

8) The mighty roar of a T. Rex as imagined by filmmakers is unlikely to be anything like the, er, mighty cry of a T. Rex. Which scientists believe would have been more like “a shriek or a grumble”. The best guess is that the noise would have been a cross between that made by a crocodile and an ostrich. Imagine that.

9) The living creature which is the closest relative to T. Rex is the terrifying...chicken.

10) Humans are closer to the time of the T. Rex than T. Rex was to the time of the Stegosaurus. Much as we’d like to imagine a condensed period of time when all the dinosaurs were walking around together like in The Flintstones, this isn’t the case.

* The Real T.Rex with Chris Packham, BBC2, January 2 at 9pm and thereafter on iPlayer.

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