Sixty-five million years before the Tunguska fireball. A seaway stretching from the Beaufort Sea (part of the Arctic Ocean) to the Gulf of Mexico divides North America. The regions that some day will be called Alberta and Montana border this inland sea. East of the seaway and the coastal plains rise the newly formed Rocky Mountains.
Between these lowlands and highlands are swamps, lakes, rivers and semi-arid plains. Coniferous and broad-leaved evergreen and deciduous trees, ferns and flowering shrubs fill the landscape; grasses have yet to evolve. This wide range of environments provides an ideal place for various species of dinosaurs, the largest beasts ever to roam the land. Among all the types of dinosaur inhabiting this prehistoric land, one stands out.
It is 12.5 metres long and 4.5 metres high - as long as a tennis court and tall enough to say hello to you through a second-storey window. It has a terrifying, massive 1.5-metre head and several dozen 18-centimetre long teeth, serrated like bread-knife blades. Its two gigantic birdlike feet have three toes each, but its two-fingered hands and arms appear puny. Its hide is not leathery, but scaly and covered with bumps. The hide is definitely not a uniform dull green; it's difficult to say, but this dinosaur may be brightly coloured like its closest relative - the birds.
Its walking pace is about 5 kilometres per hour. You can stroll alongside it, keeping up with it without difficulty. When running it can achieve a top speed of 30 kilometres per hour. Certainly not as fast as an ostrich or a horse, but a good speed when you consider it weighs 10 tonnes, as heavy as three big elephants. No wonder it has been called a 'roadrunner from hell' - a fitting tribute to its obvious size and power. Arguably, it is the biggest meat-eating land animal of all time. It is the lion of its world, but it is too large, too massive, to be an effective hunter. It travels and hunts in packs, and attacks like prowling wolves. Its main diet is plant-eating dinosaurs that are roughly its size or smaller.
It is the most popular dinosaur of all time - the star of many monster movies. But it is not the aggressive, bloodthirsty killer of the movies, and despite popular belief, it is not necessarily the most vicious animal of its time. It is not a dull-witted loner either; it is social, lives in a group and associates with others. It also has a family life of sorts and probably cares for its young.
Our dinosaur belongs to the species Tyrannosaurus rex, which lived between 67 and 65 million years ago in Canada (Alberta and Saskatchewan) and the United States (Colorado, Montana, New Mexico and Wyoming). T. rex is one of the hundred or so species of dinosaurs that lived in all continents 65 million years ago. It was the time when dinosaurs ruled the planet. Then they suddenly disappeared. Their disappearance has all the ingredients of a thriller: unwitting victims, violent and sudden death, and a mysterious killer. The identity of this killer will also help unravel the mystery of Tunguska.
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