A few years back I wrote a post entitled ‘Tyrannosaurus vs Giganotosaurus’ as I happened to have permission to post a lovely photo comparing the skulls of each and a leftover image of my own of various big theropods. Perhaps inevitably this has been my most viewed and most commented on post ever, and it’s one that’s regularly thrown up by searches, generally involving Spinosaurus too. However, oddly enough much of the ‘discussion’ and views seem ultimately to be simply about big and bad carnivores. Ask a biologist is not immune to the obvious desire for people to know about large predators and their ability (or otherwise) to beat up other carnivores.
Now from the perspective of a palaeontologist / biologist my answer is generally a simple one – who cares? These animals never met and could not have done so. Even IF they somehow managed it, they would almost certainly not engage in any kind of full on fight to the death. Even if they did, what would that tell you really? I’m sure there were bigger adult rexes than the smaller Giganotosauruses say, but bigger G.s than the smallest Tyrannosaurus individuals. So you have to compare theoretical maximums or averages, but that may not mean much if you’ve ever seen a hyena go for a lion or wolverine go for a bear. Big is not the same as bad, let alone victorious.
None of this will tell you anything about the animals at all, their biology, evolution, life history, lifestyle, ecology or behaviour. It’s an understandable preoccupation for kids and while I don’t think it’s worth the hassle it can be a window into further thoughts and interest.
Which do you think would win? Why do you think that one would win? Could we look at any of those things in fossils? Bite marks, bite strength, mass estimates, tooth shapes, eyesight, acceleration, intelligence – all of these things have been written about seriously by palaeontologists and zoologists with all manner of detail and information available. Reasonable inferences can be made by looking at living species and how they behave (what do different predators do when they encounter one another?) not to mention variation within species about how they are built and how they might act.
The question might be mundane, even vacuous, but there’s much that can be discussed and more importantly learned, if the question is a hook to expand people’s horizons and interest.
Now to sit back and wait for all the comments of “But t. rex wud win coz he is THE KING!!!”.