|Name Meaning||“Alarming Lizard”||Height||4 meters (13 feet)|
|Pronunciation||tar-boh-SAW-rus||Length||10.57 meters (34.7 feet)|
|Era||Mesozoic – Late Cretaceous||Weight||4.5-5 tons (9,900–11023 lbs)|
|Classification||Dinosauria, Saurischia & Theropoda||Location||Mongolia & China (Asia)|
In Western North America, during the Late Cretaceous Period, Tyrannosaurus rex reigned supreme.
Today, the dinosaur still maintains its celebrity status as one of the most popular dinosaurs ever despite being extinct for millions of years now.
But while Tyrannosaurus was king in North America, one of its close cousins also ruled the terrestrial landscape in East Asia.
Although not as popular as the T-rex, Tarbosaurus was similar to T-rex in a lot of ways.
In fact, they’re so similar that many scientists have considered them to be different species of the same genus.
However, aside from the fact that they lived on different parts of the earth, there are some basic anatomical differences between these two dinosaurs, too.
Known from numerous specimens from the Nemegt formation in Mongolia, the “alarming lizard” has been extensively studied by scientists.
These studies have aided our understanding of this dinosaur and other members of the family Tyrannosauridae.
Tarbosaurus is a genus of theropod tyrannosaurid dinosaurs that lived during the Late Cretaceous period.
Anatomically, this dinosaur was closely similar to the T-rex except for some basic differences.
It was one of the largest tyrannosaurids ever found, featuring a massive skull that was up to 1.3 meters (4.3 feet) long in the largest specimen.
Tarbosaurus measured about 10.57 meters (34.7 feet) in length and stood at about 3.2 meters (10 feet) tall at the hip. The weight of this dinosaur has been estimated to be between 4.5 and 5 tons on average.
Based on these size estimates, Tarbosaurus was slightly smaller than Tyrannosaurus rex but was still an imposing creature.
Like its North American cousin, the most distinctive features of the Tarbosaurus were its large head, powerful jaws, and tiny forelimbs.
It is worth noting that despite being massive by tyrannosaurid standards, the skull of the Tarbosaurus was quite lightweight. It had a narrow top-down profile and was slender all through.
The skull of the Tyrannosaurus rex, on the other hand, is more heavily built and widens out towards the back.
The rest of the Tarbosaurus’s body follows a typical tyrannosaurid pattern.
The alarming lizard had a robust and muscular body, with a powerful tail that helped it maintain balance.
The dinosaur’s chest was deep and wide, and its frame was carried on strong limbs.
Tabosaurus also had a long neck and walked on two legs like other theropod dinosaurs.
One other notable feature seen in this dinosaur was its tiny arms. Although such tiny forelimbs were typical of tyrannosaurids, Tarbosaurus had the shortest arm of all its relatives.
The reduced arm size may have helped the two-legged dinosaur maintain its balance while walking or chasing prey.
Habitat and Distribution
Tarbosaurus lived during the Late Cretaceous period, approximately 70 to 65 million years ago.
Fossils of this dinosaur have been recovered mainly from the Nemegt formation in present-day Mongolia.
However, paleontologists have also recovered a few fragmentary remains from China’s Subashi Formation.
This fossil distribution suggests that Tarbosaurus inhabited a relatively restricted geographic range within the interior of eastern Asia.
During the Late Cretaceous period, Mongolia was generally warm and humid.
However, the region also experienced periodic droughts, indicative of an area with distinct wet and dry seasons.
The wet season was characterized by heavy rainfall, which formed rivers, lakes, and floodplains.
The area also had a lush forest whose ecosystem supported a diverse range of plant and animal life.
In such an environment, a large predator like the Tarbosaurus would have thrived at the top of the food chain, where it preyed on various large herbivorous dinosaurs and other animals in its ecosystem.
Behavior and Diet
Tarbosaurus was a bipedal dinosaur, meaning it walked on two legs with its muscular tail helping to maintain balance.
The hind limbs were strong and muscular, which helped to support the dinosaur’s bulky weight.
They also allowed for efficient movement, with occasional rapid bursts of speed when hunting or pursuing prey.
The forelimbs of the Tarbosaurus were relatively small and were not used for walking.
It isn’t clear if they played a significant role in grasping and holding onto prey.
Some scientists believe Tarbosaurus may have exhibited some degree of social behavior.
Fossil evidence suggests that these dinosaurs probably hunted in groups or family units, similar to some modern-day predators like lions.
However, this aspect of Tarbosaurus’ behavior is still not a topic of scientific debate.
One argument against organized family behavior is the small size of the dinosaur’s brain which opposes the idea of such a highly complex behavior.
Tarbosaurus was a carnivorous dinosaur whose diet consisted of other dinosaurs and smaller animals.
It was a formidable predator that used its powerful jaws and sharp, serrated teeth to capture and tear prey apart.
Studies show that Tarbosaurus had an excellent sense of smell and great hearing.
But the nerves and other brain structures responsible for eyesight were undeveloped.
Tarbosaurus had a narrow skull which would have made binocular vision difficult, if not impossible.
The implication of this is that Tarbosaurus likely relied on its keen sense of smell and great hearing when hunting rather than sight.
The Tarbosaurus’s position as an apex predator meant it would have targeted a range of herbivorous dinosaurs, including hadrosaurs, ceratopsians, and armored dinosaurs that lived in Asia during the Late Cretaceous.
Tarbosaurus may have also scavenged carcasses in certain situations.
The robust build and strong bite force of this dinosaur allowed it to bite through bone, enabling it to access nutrient-rich parts of its prey.
Scientists once found fossils of a Parasaurolophus with numerous Tarbosaurus bite marks on it.
This is evidence that the dinosaur scavenged the hadrosaur’s corpse after it died.
While specific details of the Tarbosaurus’ life cycle are not well-known, the dinosaur likely reproduced sexually.
The specific behaviors and courtship rituals of the Tarbosaurus are also not known.
Female Tarbosaurus would have laid eggs, which were likely large given the dinosaur’s size.
The eggs probably had hard shells, similar to those of some modern-day reptiles and birds.
Tarbosaurus eggs were laid in nests constructed in sandy or other well-drained soil.
The nest would then be covered with vegetation or other materials for protection.
The heat of the surrounding environment helped incubate the egg, with the sun playing a significant role.
Hatchlings probably required some level of parental care and protection during their early stages of life.
This would have been for a relatively short time since tyrannosaurid dinosaurs experienced rapid growth spurts during their early years, reaching maturity very quickly.
Evolution and History
Tarbosaurus bataar is the only species identified so far in the Tarbosaurus genus.
The dinosaur belongs to the family Tyrannosauridae and the subfamily Tyrannosaurinae.
Some of the close relatives of this dinosaur include Alioramus, Daspletosaurus, Teratophoneus, and the famous Tyrannosaurus.
The evolution history of the tyrannosaurids can be traced back to the Jurassic period when the group first emerged.
They diversified into different subgroups and genera during the Cretaceous period.
As a group, tyrannosaurids evolved from smaller, more primitive theropods.
The earliest members of the family emerged in Asia during the Late Jurassic.
They were smaller in size and had relatively longer arms compared to their later relatives.
Over time, these dinosaurs underwent significant changes in their morphology.
One such change, as seen in the Tarbosaurus, was the development of larger body sizes and more robust skulls.
Their arms also became shorter and less functional as they evolved, while their legs and hindlimbs became larger and more powerful.
This shift in body proportions indicates a transition from a more agile predator to a more specialized and powerful ambush hunter.
Tarbosaurus is older than T-rex, emerging a few million years before the tyrannosaurs in North America.
This is consistent with the theory that the tyrannosaurs originated in Asia, from where they migrated to North America.
Back then, the two continents were connected by a land bridge which made such migrations possible.
Some scientists also think that Tarbosaurus and the T-rex are too similar to be different genera.
Instead, they would be better classified as two species within the Tyrannosaurus genus.
Interactions With Other Species
Tarbosaurus lived in a fertile floodplain where it was the apex predator. Unlike its North American relatives that specialized in hunting large dinosaurs like the ceratopsians, Eastern Asia did not have ceratops.
Instead, sauropods like the Nemegtosaurus and Opisthocoelicaudia were more abundant, and the Mongolian tyrannosaur would have preyed on them.
Scientists have also identified a few ankylosaurid dinosaurs, such as Saichania, in the same area.
Since they were by far the biggest predators in Asia at the time, Adult Tarbosaurus probably didn’t face any major threats.
A few tyrannosaurids, such as Alioramus, could have competed for the same food.
Troodontids like Borogovia and Tochisaurus were probably in competition too, but they most likely went after smaller prey.
Being an apex predator, the presence of the Tarbosaurus would have influenced the behavior and distribution of other species within the ecosystem.
Tarbosaurus is known as “Tarbos” in Mongolia, a country that takes pride in its rich fossil heritage.
The dinosaur holds major cultural significance in the country and is considered one of the iconic dinosaur species from the region.
Tarbosaurus has played a crucial role in advancing our understanding of dinosaur paleobiology and evolution.
Tarbosaurus is the most common tyrannosaur fossil in the Nemegt formation.
As a result, it is one of the best-studied dinosaurs from the region.
With numerous specimens found so far, the anatomy of this dinosaur has been extensively studied.
However, unlike North American tyrannosaurids, only adults and subadult Tarbosaurus have been found so far.
This leaves a gap in our understanding of the growth pattern and overall lifecycle of this dinosaur that can only be filled by comparing it with other tyrannosaurids.
Although Tarbosaurus itself is not commonly represented in movies, books, and other forms of media, tyrannosaurid dinosaurs, in general, are well-known to the general public.
They have become quite an iconic representation of what dinosaurs looked like.
They have been in numerous films and documentaries, typically showcasing their ferocity and power.
Tarbosaurus was a close relative of Tyrannosaurus rex that lived in a different part of the world about 70 million years ago.
While both dinosaurs were superficially similar, the narrow skull, thinner jaw, and smaller forearms of the Tarbosaurus are some clues that give away the differences between both predators.
The identity of both dinosaurs relative to each other is still debated in the scientific community.
While many would rather have both of them classified as members of the same genus, some scientists think they’re distinct individuals.
There’s also a possibility that the Tarbosaurus was a direct ancestor of the Tyrannosaurus rex.
The evolutionary relationship between both tyrannosaurs is just one of many interesting facts that further studies may reveal about these apex lizards of the Mesozoic era.
How long did the Tarbosaurus live?
Tarbosaurus was alive during the Cretaceous period between 72 and 68 million years ago.
It probably went extinct with the rest of the non-avian dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous period.
Is the T-rex bigger than Tarbosaurus?
Yes. The T-rex is the biggest tyrannosaur dinosaur ever found, and it is slightly bigger than the Tarbosaurus.
The biggest T-rex specimen was about 45 feet (14 meters) long, while the largest Tarbosaurus measured about 35 feet (11 meters) long.
What does the name “Tarbosaurus” mean?
The name “Tarbosaurus” is derived from the Greek words “tarbos,” meaning “fright” or “alarm,” and “sauros,” meaning “lizard.”
Therefore, Tarbosaurus can be interpreted as an “alarming lizard” or a “frightening lizard.”
Jerry Young is a self-proclaimed prehistoric animal nerd. He has been fascinated with these ancient creatures for as long as he can remember, and his passion for them continues to this day. With his extensive knowledge and love for prehistoric animals, he is the perfect fit for Gage Beasley Prehistoric.