Tyrannosaurus rex was 'a dime a dozen'

Tyrannosaurus rex, the 'king of dinosaurs', was probably not a rare, terrifying sight. The discovery of five skeletons in different places this summer suggests that in the age of the dinosaurs, the building-sized carnivores were actually a common and still terrifying sight.

Tyrannosaurus rex, the 'king of dinosaurs', was probably not a rare, terrifying sight. The discovery of five skeletons in different places this summer suggests that in the age of the dinosaurs, the building-sized carnivores were actually a common and still terrifying sight.

The effect of the discovery could be to depress prices of the skeletons, and to ensure that future finds will be preserved for scientific examination.

Jack Horner, director of paleontology at the Museum of the Rockies, Montana, who was the inspiration for the dinosaur film Jurassic Park, led this summer's team. He told New Scientist magazine: "They are basically a dime a dozen."

Previously, T rex skeletons had been extremely rare - so much so that scientists feared scarcity would lead to collectors trying to corner the market, and encourage rushed and damaging excavations.

In 1997, a skeleton with more than 60 per cent of the bones intact was auctioned with a reserve price of more than £6m. The same year, the FBI was called in to guard a giant graveyard discovered in Montana because it was feared prospectors would try to dig it up and sell the bones privately.

There are between 30 and 40 T rex skeletons in museums around the world - and most are less than half-complete.

Mr Horner said he doubted that his team was just lucky. The fossils were found at separate sites, with ages spanning some 1.5 million years, ruling out any suggestion the team had stumbled upon a herd of the creatures.

The discovery suggested that T rex was "a lot more common than we thought", Mr Horner added.

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