T. rex: The Ultimate Predator main content.

T. rex: The Ultimate Predator

March 11, 2019 — March 14, 2021

Now Open

Free for Members. Timed entry only. Gallery 3, third floor.

Illustration of T. rex.
Illustration by Zhao Chuang; Courtesy of PNSO
How did T. rex evolve to become the most fearsome carnivore of the Mesozoic?

Please note, some interactive and touchable exhibits are temporarily unavailable to maintain health and safety.

T. rex: The Ultimate Predator will introduce you to the entire tyrannosaur superfamily and reveal the amazing story of the most iconic dinosaur in the world through stunning life-sized models, fossils and casts, and a shadow theater re-creating an epic battle.

Warning: you may never think of T. rex the same way again.

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T Rex skeleton C. Chesek/© AMNH

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What You'll See in T. rex: The Ultimate Predator

Becoming T. rex

T. Rex hatchling
Even T. rex was once a vulnerable hatchling–and many never made it past age one.
Illustration by Zhao Chuang; Courtesy of PNSO

How did a fluffy little critter turn into a massive killing machine? Every terrifying T. rex was once a helpless hatchling. And all tyrannosaurs evolved from smaller ancestors—some little bigger than this one as adults. The full tyrannosaur story spans 100 million years of evolution and includes dozens of species discovered around the world—including T. rex, uncovered in Montana in 1905 by American Museum of Natural History fossil hunter Barnum Brown.

Meet the Family

Illustration of the tyrannosaur Dilong paradoxus
Like many early tyrannosaurs, Dilong had arms that were relatively long—and capable of seizing small prey.
Illustration by Zhao Chuang; Courtesy of PNSO

Tyrannosaurus rex may be the most famous tyrannosaur—but it’s not the most typical. Most tyrannosaurs were not giants like T. rex. Early species were small and fast. Discover what scientists know about the tyrannosaur family—including Dilong paradoxus, which was the first tyrannosaur found with fossilized feathers.

Getting Big

Illustration of Nanotyrannus lancenis
Many scientists argue that Nanotyrannus is an invalid name and that these supposed "dwarf tyrannosaurs" are just juveniles of T. rex.
Illustration by Zhao Chuang; Courtesy of PNSO

How did T. rex get so big when its ancestors were so small? Find out how paleontologists learn about how fast an extinct animal grew and why scientists disagree about whether some tyrannosaur specimens are small adults from a different branch of the family tree or young T. rex.

Getting Bad

Illustration of adult T. rex.
A full-grown T. rex weighed about six to nine tons (5,500 to 8,000 kg), stood about 12 to 13 feet (4 m) high at the hip, and was about 40 to 43 feet (13 m) long.
Illustration by Zhao Chuang; Courtesy of PNSO

All tyrannosaurs were built to kill, but the biggest and baddest of them all was Tyrannosaurus rex. With its huge size, sharp claws and teeth that could bite through bone, it dominated the competition. Discover how paleontologists read fossils for hidden clues about how this mega-predator lived, how several tyrannosaurs shared an ecosystem, and why scientists think that T. rex ate members of its own species.

Sensitive Side

Illustration of T. rex juvenile.
Juvenile T. rex had a different body form and hunted different prey than adults, occupying different ecological niches as it matured.
Illustration by Zhao Chuang; Courtesy of PNSO

New research on this powerful hunter’s senses show that its keen vision, smell, and hearing made it very hard for prey to avoid detection. Explore how scientists use brain casts and observed behaviors of living T. rex relatives—birds and alligators—to learn more about how T. rex navigated its environment. 


Major funding for T. rex: The Ultimate Predator provided by the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Endowment Fund.

Generous support also provided by: 

Dana and Virginia Randt

Chase Private Client

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Virtual reality experience created in collaboration with HTC VIVE.

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