Millions of years before the rise of Man, great, lumbering reptiles called dinosaurs roamed the primordial Earth.
Although their fossilized remains have long captivated the public’s imagination, and dinosaur research has advanced considerably since the last century, much is still unknown about them save for the raw strength and aggression of some species – particularly the colossal Giganotosaurus and the ravenous Tyrannosaurus.
How is a Giganotosaurus different from a Tyrannosaurus?
The main difference between the Giganotosaurus and Tyrannosaurus could be seen in their height and size; the average Giganotosaurus was fairly taller and larger than a T-rex. Another key difference lies in the fact that the Tyrannosaurus lived in the Maastrichtian Age of the Late Cretaceous Period, roughly 30 million years after the Cenomanian Age and the time of the Giganotosauruses.
What is a Giganotosaurus?
Giganotosaurus refers to an entire genus of especially large and carnivorous theropods (dinosaurs that had three-toed feet and hollow bones) that lived in the Cenomanian Age about 97 million years ago.
The name Gigantosaurus itself translates to “Great Southern Lizard,” in reference to its size, as well as the discovery of the initial specimen in Patagonia, Argentina in 1993. The only species currently in this genus, Gigantosaurus carolinii, pays homage to the original discoverer, Rubén D. Carolini.
Remains of Giganotosaurus specimens suggest that the creatures are larger, or at least the same size as, the Tyrannosaurus. The dinosaur had a low and long skull, a strong neck, short arms, and short, spiky projections running along its spine.
Giganotosauruses are believed to be apex predators that fed on a wide variety of prey animals, including younger sauropods. Scientists theorize that they hunted in packs, inflicting slicing wounds on their prey with multiple bites.
What is a Tyrannosaurus (T-Rex) ?
Tyrannosaurus is another genus of large, meat-eating theropods, with Tyrannosaurus rex being among the most extensively researched dinosaurs to date.
Owing to the perceived size and apex predator status of the initial specimen found by Barnum Brown in 1900, the dinosaur received the name Tyrannosaurus rex, or “King Tyrant Lizard” from Henry Fairfield Osborn, then-president of the American Museum of National History.
Tyrannosauruses inhabited the prehistoric world in the Upper Cretaceous Period, approximately 67 million years ago.
It had a robust body, strong legs, a sturdy skull and formidable jaws, and a well-developed sense of smell. However, it also had diminutive arms.
The current scientific consensus states that a Tyrannosaur both hunted and scavenged for food. When hunting, Tyrannosauruses worked in packs.
Differences Between Giganotosaurus and Tyrannosaurus
Based on the size of the most complete specimen, the average Giganotosaurus is estimated to be 13.5-14.3 m long from head to tail and 3.6-4.2 m tall. The weight of Giganotosauruses of varying ages and states of health would range from 4-14 tons.
These estimates portray the Giganotosaurus’ size as at least equal, if not slightly larger, than a Tyrannosaurus. Extrapolating from T-rex specimens, the average Tyrannosaurus would be roughly 12 m in length, and stand at around 3.5-4 m tall. The theorized weight range for most T-rexes is 8-14 tons.
The Tyrannosaurus inhabited the Earth at the tail end of the Late Cretaceous Period, known as the Maastrichtian age, some 70 million years ago. Its contemporaries included the herbivore Triceratops, ankylosaurs, pachycephalosaurs, and the Quetzalcoatlus flying pterosaur.
Gigantosauruses predate the T-rex by 30 million years, living roughly 100 million years ago in the earliest age of the Late Cretaceous, known as the Cenomanian age. It lived alongside the long-necked Andesaurus, the feathered Buitreraptor, and the ancestors of kangaroos.
Both dinosaurs survived on a diet of meat, specifically the meat from various herbivorous dinosaurs, juvenile sauropods, and other animals that they hunted.
Aside from the prey that it killed, the Tyrannosaurus supplemented its diet by scavenging from the remains of dead creatures whenever it found the opportunity. Juvenile specimens that have not yet grown to their full strength were especially inclined to scavenge.
Although evidence is sparse, the Giganotosaurus was also presumed to scavenge for food in addition to hunting.
Due to their bulk, Giganotosauruses and Tyrannosauruses likely did not pursue their prey, and instead might have taken an ambush strategy in foraging, working in packs.
The T-rex could remove swathes of flesh from its prey with its puncture-and-pull biting method. Giganotosauruses, lacking the bite strength of the T-rex, presumably killed their prey by inflicting cuts and slashes with their teeth.
The Giganotosaurus could take down prey far larger than it was, with the skeletal remains of an Argentinosaurus, the largest land animal ever known at 30-40 m in height, with Giganotosaurus teeth embedded on them. It is believed that they were capable of hunting both in packs and individually.
To date, scientists have established that Giganotosauruses used to live in the land that is now present-day Argentina, with the most complete specimen recovered from the Patagonia region.
Tyrannosauruses had a far larger range of habitats. T-rex fossils have been collected from all across the Western United States, Alaska and Mexico, and a related dinosaur, Tarbosaurus, stalked across Central Asia.
The T-rex, reputed to be the hardest-biting land animal of all time, could bite down its prey with nearly 5,800 kg of force. It could easily dismember its prey and even grind its bones to paste.
Giganotosauruses’ bite strength simply could not compete with such power; they had far weaker bites that peaked at around 3,600 kg of force.
The Tyrannosaurus, having evolved millions of years after the Gigantosaurus, was far smarter than its rival. It had more developed senses, a particularly keen sense of smell, and better coordination in hunting as a pack.
It was smarter than many other dinosaurs, and its relatively large brain weighed roughly a kilogram. In contrast, Giganotosaurus brains were only as heavy as a banana – possibly peaking at 150 g.
Comparison Chart: Giganotosaurus Vs T-Rex
|Physical Measurements||13.5-14.3 m long, 3.6-4.2 m tall, 4-14 tons||12 m long, 3.5-4 m tall, 8-14 tons|
|Period||Cenomanian Age||Maastrichtian Age|
|Feeding Habits||Carnivorous; hunting||Carnivorous; hunting and scavenging|
|Hunting Strategies||Ambush predation; “bite and slash” method||Ambush predation; “puncture and pull” method|
|Habitat||Argentina||North and Central America, Asia|
|Bite Force||3,600 kg||5,800 kg|
How are Giganotosaurus and Tyrannosaurus similar?
Many of the differences between Giganotosauruses and Tyrannosauruses are minor. Generally speaking, they were both among the apex predators of their time, hunting prey with impunity by relying on their size and power.
Although separated from each other by 30 million years, the dinosaurs both lived in the Cretaceous Period.
They also hunted similarly as ambush predators, preferring to kill small prey and juvenile dinosaurs using their bites as their primary weapons, in addition to their sharp claws.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who would win in a fight between a Giganotosaurus and a T-Rex?
Although the Gigantosaurus is physically larger than a T-rex, the Tyrannosaurus will likely prevail should the two apex predators come into a clash.
The Gigantosaurus would attempt to inflict death by a thousand cuts by slashing away with its sharp teeth and claws. However, the Tyrannosaurus is surprisingly agile for its size. Combined with its superior senses and reflexes, it will likely evade the blows and quickly counterattack.
The T-rex’s bite is its deadliest weapon; a single bite can snap a Giganotosaurus’ limbs, rend flesh from bone, or even shatter the skull.
What were the T-Rex’s arms for?
Despite its fearsome reputation, people often poke fun at the T-rex’s infantile arms, blissfully unaware of their deadly role in helping the T-rex dominate its opponents.
The short arms were still quite strong and muscular, ending in sharp claws four inches long. Paleontologist Steven Stanley theorizes that the T-rex could saturate its prey’s flesh with deep, long gashes, inflicting several slashing wounds in quick succession.
Tyrannosaurus expert Thomas Holtz also posits that, since the arms would be relatively larger for juvenile Tyrannosauruses, they would rely on them more commonly in combat.
The Cretaceous Period saw many dinosaurs rise as some of Earth’s largest land animals.
The Giganotosaurus and Tyrannosaurus had many parallels with each other, with both being titanic apex predators in their time. Their main differences are in their minor details.
Giganotosauruses lived in what is now present-day Argentina during the Cenomanian Age – the earliest age of the Cretaceous Period. They were somewhat larger than a T-rex, although far less intelligent. Due to their weaker jaw strength, they hunted their prey using a bite-and-slash method. The Tyrannosauruses occupied the lands of North and Central America, and Asia, in the Maastrichtian Age, the last age of the Cretaceous Period. They had heightened senses and intelligence, and were better suited to coordinating in packs. Their bites had legendary force, which could incapacitate or kill prey and were used to puncture and pull apart flesh.