T. Rex Intelligence: New Study Debunks Previous Findings About the King Dinosaur Being as Smart as an Ape

Tyrannosaurus rex is an extinct theropod dinosaur whose name means “king of the tyrant lizards.” Often referred to as the king of the dinosaurs, the T. rex has been portrayed as a ferocious and vicious predator that roamed the Earth until its extinction, along with other dinosaurs, around 66 million years ago. Currently, the dinosaur’s legacy has been popularized by paleontological literature.

Modern pop culture has portrayed the king dinosaur as an aggressive and violent wild animal. However, a January 2023 study led by a Brazilian neuroscientist showed that the T. rex was as smart as an ape, at least at a cognitive level. In contrast, a new study earlier this year debunks the said findings and suggests the T. rex had an intelligence same with modern-day crocodiles.

Smart as a Primate

T. Rex Intelligence: New Study Debunks Previous Findings About the King Dinosaur Being as Smart as an Ape
(Photo : Photo by Huang Yingone on Unsplash)

The order Primates under the class Mammalia, including humans (H. sapiens) and other lower classifications such as apes, gorillas, chimpanzees, and orangutans. For the longest time, the intelligence of primates has been attributed by scientists to their relatively large brain compared with other animals, only next to other mammals like the sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus).

In 2023, a study published in the Journal of Comparative Neurology stated the T. rex was smart as a primate, since it reportedly had a cognitive intelligence that resembles the apes. In general, the research paper concluded that therapod dinosaurs such as the Tyrannosaurus rex had primate-like numbers of telencephalic neurons, sharing the same cognitive capabilities with our primate cousins.

Also Read: Post-Dinosaur World: Prehistoric Mammals Use Muscles First Before Their Brains to Survive

T. Rex Intelligence

In an academic rebuttal, a 2024 study published in The Anatomical Record on April 26 said the T. rex intelligence or cognition level is comparable to a modern-day crocodile rather than an ape. This hypothesis of the exceptional intelligence of dinosaurs like the T. rex to the said predatory reptile has been mentioned in related research before, including from studies in 1998, 2009, and 2013.

This is not the first time the king dinosaur’s intelligence has been compared to crocodiles. Since the 1970s, the majority of scientists have agreed that Tyrannosaurus rex had an intelligence like modern reptiles. In light of the new study, the authors of the April 2024 research paper re-affirm this decades-long consensus that T. rex intelligence is likely the same as that of the reptilian.

Animal Intelligence

Animal intelligence or cognition pertains to the mental capacity, function, and power of non-human animals. In today’s scientific records, most scientists believe that the primate chimpanzee is the “smartest animal in the world” after Homo sapiens. Yet, some give the title to animals like the African grey parrot (Psittacus Erithacus) and the common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncates).

While there are various aspects behind animal cognition. Scientists in the concerned field have shown before that some animals, especially non-human primates, are smarter than previously thought. In a recent report, scientists were able to observe an orangutan using a medicinal plant to treat a wound under its right eye.

Related Article: Evolution of Cerebellum: From Dinosaur Brains to Bird Flight and Human Intelligence

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