As for the difference between the two dinosaurs? “Again, that was a bit of scientific inference,” admits Privett. “The suspicion is that there is some dimorphism, but exactly how that presents itself is hard to know. If we look at phylogenetics, the descendants of a T-Rex—birds and, to a certain extent, reptiles—do have that difference. Often, the males are more brightly colored in a display way, so we inferred it. We thought the end result looked believable and seemed appropriate.”

Family Dinner

One thrilling sequence sees an adult and two young T-Rexes chase down an unsuspecting Triceratops, with the youngsters playing a key role in the hunt—something that, again, we haven’t really seen before on screen. “T-Rex is such an odd dinosaur—it’s so bulky that some researchers have suggested that it probably couldn’t run, in the true sense of getting both feet off the ground,” says Fletcher. “The young T-Rexes look so different: they’re lean and graceful, with really long legs, and they could run fast like a velociraptor might. For a while, people thought the two were completely different species. The youngsters could chase things, but the adults couldn’t. So were the adults just scavenging, or were they doing something else?”

 To solve this riddle, the researchers looked at fossilized “trackways,” which showed that very close relatives of the T-Rex sometimes moved in packs. “If you’ve got youngsters that are really mobile, really quick, and you’ve also got evidence for sociality, maybe there’s a division of labor,” Fletcher explains, “where the youngsters are chasing down something and the adult is immobilizing it. So that scene is very much born out of this idea that they were working together and there was some sort of cooperative hunting involved.”

Dancing Dinos

Another key sequence shows off a little-seen softer side of the T-Rex, with a male dinosaur attempting to catch the eye of a potential mate. The “dance” that he performs, again, is based on a mix of fossil evidence and phylogenetics. “Until we invent a time machine, we’re never going to see a T-Rex dance,” says Fletcher. “But what we do see in theropod dinosaurs elsewhere in the fossil record are trackways with scrape marks in the ground, where they seem to have been doing a display.”

The courtship ritual was also inspired by a number of modern birds, as well as alligators and crocodiles—“the other side of the dinosaur family tree,” according to Fletcher. “Crocodiles will produce really low bellows to attract females; birds are vocalizing all the time, and they’re doing dances and all sorts of crazy stuff. You obviously can’t scale up a small bird dance to a T-Rex—it would be too frantic and look odd—so we had to tone that down enormously. But there were common elements like head sways, symmetry, the deepness and complexity [of the sounds]….”

All in all, it makes for a surprisingly sweet moment between two giant prehistoric predators. “T-Rex was capable of quite delicate behavior—we now know that its jaw was covered in nerve endings, so was most likely very sensitive and tactile,” Fletcher explains. “It’s important to see different sides of creatures,” Mitchell adds. “The T-Rex is so iconic—we’re used to it being the big scary creature. So it was exciting to work on a scene where they’re doing these different, unexpected behaviors, rather than the norm we’re used to seeing.”

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