Tarbosaurus bataar — a ferocious theropod
Tarbosaurus was a large carnivorous theropod dinosaur from Mongolia. Like its close North American relative, Tyrannosaurus rex, it had a very large head and powerful jaws, but was not top heavy as its huge skull was comparatively thin and light, with large air pockets. Many of its bones were hollow, making them strong but light, so they did not add excessive weight to this large predator.
Like all tyrannosaurs, Tarbosaurus had very short arms — so short that they could not even reach its own mouth. This puzzled palaeontologists, but it is now thought that the expression ‘if you don’t use it, you lose it’ may explain this. Many other theropods took prey of differing sizes, so they still needed arms to grasp and manipulate their lunch. The tyrannosaurs concentrated on the big stuff! They could overcome their prey with their enormous jaws, teeth and neck muscles. Imagine a giant cookie-cutter mounted on a battering ram. This method of attack could take out a cubic metre of flesh from its prey, allowing Tarbosaurus to sit back and wait until its prey died from blood loss.
Although tyrannosaurs were accomplished hunters, life was still tough for them. Many skeletons have been found with evidence of the broken bones that have healed during the life of the animal.
The specimen exhibited at Melbourne Museum is a cast from a fossil skeleton of a teenage Tarbosaurus — the animal was not fully grown when it died.