This is probably the question that all Paleontologists get asked at some point. Who would win in a fight between Tyrannosaurus Rex and Spinosaurus.
T-Rex and Spinosaurus were among the two most ferocious predators ever to live on the planet. Both were the undisputed kings of the world’s they lived in, but sadly both lived many millions of years and several continents apart from each other and thus we will never know for sure who would win in a fight.
Still in this article I will be taking a look at all of the monsters strengths and weaknesses and try and decide who would be more likely to win in a death match between these two kings of the Dinosaur world.
This article will try and look at things in a fair and balanced way. I freely admit I am more of a T-Rex fan than a Spinosaurus fan, but still this will be looking at cold hard facts and determining who would have a better chance of killing the other.
First up lets take a look at both beasts.
Tyrannosaurus Rex is by far and away the most famous Dinosaur. It was also among the last Dinosaurs to have ever existed. It lived at the tail end of the Cretaceous period 65 million years ago.
For over 90 years it was believed to be the largest land based predator of all time, but we now know that there were three meat eating Dinosaurs bigger than it, Giganotosaurus, Carcharodontosaurus and finally Spinosaurus itself now thought to be the biggest.
Still Tyrannosaurus Rex was the largest predator in its environment. It was over 40 feet long, 18 feet tall at the hips and could weigh anywhere between 9 long tons and 21 short tons.
It would have preyed upon Hadrosaurs, Ceratopsians and sauropods such as Edmontosaurus, Triceratops and Alamosaurus.
Whilst T-Rex may no longer be considered the largest land based predator in terms of raw power it is still utterly unrivalled.
It had the strongest bite force of possibly any animal ever to live on the planet.
In 2005 the BBC documentary the Truth About Killer Dinosaurs built a reconstruction of a T-Rex head called Steely Dan. Steely Dan revealed a number of interesting things about the power of a Tyrannosaurus.
First of all its bite was believed to have been a little over 4 tonnes. This would have given T- Rex a stronger bite than any animal alive today and a stronger bite than any other meat eating dinosaur (including Spinosaurus). With a bite of 4 tons Tyrannosaurus could have easily crushed a small car in its mouth no problem, it also would have been able to rip off more than 500 pounds of flesh in one bite.
T-Rex could fit a whole lion in its mouth easy!
Furthermore due to having such a powerful bite Tyrannosaurus Rex’s entire skeleton would have been stronger than reinforced steel and that’s just its skeleton, think how powerful it would have been when you add the muscles and thick skin over that!
Whilst this documentary was ground breaking at the time in the ten plus years since further studies have been conducted and it is now accepted that Tyrannosaurus Rex actually would have had a bite force of over 9 tons well over twice that of Steely Dan’s.
Other studies meanwhile by Gregory M Erikson who worked on both Steely Dan and the Dino’s vs Mammal’s series as well as by Mason B Meers showed that Tyrannosaurus would have had a bite force exceeding 23 tons.
If this estimate were true then it means Tyrannosaurus would have had the strongest bite force of any animal ever to live on the.earth.
The Megalodon shark has a bit force of just over 20 tons, Deinosuchus a prehistoric crocodile had a bite force of just over 11 tons, Spinosaurus’s bite force was over three tones, a Great White Shark’s is 1 ton, and a Tiger which has the largest bite of any land mammalian carnivore has a bite force of just over half a ton.
Thus T-Rex could bite over twice as hard as Deinosuchus, 8 times as hard as Spinosaurus and close to 50 times as hard as a tiger.
As if that wasn’t enough Tyrannosuarus’s teeth were also designed in such a way that if its prey tried to escape the little meat hooks on the inside of every tooth would pull more and more meat from its victims into its throat. The hooks on its teeth would also have caused meat to become stuck between them which would have meant that bacteria from the rotting meat in its mouth would have built up and effectively given it a poison bite.
If the force of Tyrannosaur bite didn’t kill its victim, or the blood loss from losing over 500 pounds of flesh didn’t kill them, then the poison from its mouth would have killed them in a very nasty, painful and disgusting way over a short space of time.
Tyrannosaurus could also lift a tremendous amount of weight off of the ground in its jaws too. Close to 5 tons which is about the weight of an African Elephant.
T-Rex’s were incredibly durable animals too. Tyrannosaurus skeletons have been shown to have healed from gruesome injuries that would have killed other animals such as a broken neck, bite marks from other Tyrannosaurus’s in their brain case, scratches from Triceratops horns, and whacks from Anklyosaur clubs (which could swing with a force of over 4 tonnes.)
Finally as if that wasn’t enough Tyrannosaurus Rex also was a highly intelligent animal, at least by Dinosaur standards. It was the most intelligent giant Dinosaur and its intelligence was most likely greater than that of Alligators and Crocodiles. Alligators and Crocodiles are more intelligent than some species of cats and dogs. Thus if you were brave enough you could even teach a T-Rex tricks!
Some experts believe that Tyrannosaurus Rex’s intelligence was greater than that of a Lion’s too.
A T-Rex couldn’t have hugged you as its arms were too small, but it could have loved you just as much.
T-Rex’s larger brain would have allowed its senses to be much more refined and advanced too. Its sense of vision was particularly strong and its sense of smell was according to Bob Bakker one of the worlds leading experts on Dinosaurs comparable to 100 blood hounds.
Spinosaurus meanwhile was a relatively obscure Dinosaur for decades until it shot to fame when it starred in Jurassic Park 3 in 2001.
Spinosaurus was the largest land based predator ever to live on the planet, though this was not conformed until 2006. Spinosaurus could reach a length of 59 feet long and weigh anywhere between 7 and 23 tons. It was also roughly about 20 feet tall at the hips.
Spinosaurus lived during the early to middle Cretaceous period 112 to 97 million years ago.
It was the apex predator in its environment though there is some evidence that it came into conflict with another giant meat eating dinosaur named Carcharodontosaurus which was larger than T-Rex. One Spinosaurus specimen had the bite mark of a Carcharodontosaurus on its sail.
Spinosaurus would have preyed on other large Dinosaurs, but there is evidence that its diet consisted of mostly marine life. It was a semi aquatic animal that spent a good deal of its time in the water. Don’t think this makes it any less impressive a hunter as the marine life it preyed on would have included massive predators far larger and stronger than the Great White Shark or the Giant Squid!
Spinosaurus’s teeth were better designed for gripping long slippery prey which is why they were thinner than the robust teeth of Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Spinosaurus had a considerably smaller bite than Tyrannosaurus at just 3 tons. Though that is still far greater than any animal alive today and would have been powerful enough to bite through a car door or bite a human being in half. Its still quite small for an animal of that size.
Spinosaurus also was not as intelligent as Tyrannosaurus or as fast.
Where it did have an advantage over Tyrannosaurus however aside from its greater size was in the massive claws on its arms.
Now we all know about Tyrannosaurus Rex’s little arms. They’ve been the punch line of many jokes and meme’s over the years. In reality those little arms were still surprisingly strong, and as we have seen Tyrannosaurus really wouldn’t have needed them due to its powerful bite.
Still just as T-Rex didn’t need big arms Spinosaurus it can be argued didn’t need a colossal bite either.
The claws on its fingers were as massive as the meat hooks you’d find in a slaughter house. The beast could also swing its arms with a force of over 6 tons.
This would have meant that being hit by the Spino’s claws would have been like getting hit by 3 cars (your average car weighs 2 tons) with massive meat hooks from a slaughter house on the front at a tremendous speed.
That would most certainly be enough to pierce the hide of a Tyrannosaurus Rex no problem.
So then which would win in a one on one fight? Well there are many factors to take into consideration.
Chief among them is the environment. If the two beasts are out in the wild well then it really could go either way.
There are so many things that could tip it in the other animals favour out in the wild. To start with one of the animals may be sick or old, or one may be alone going against a pack. Also it depends on where they are fighting.
If its in the jungle Tyrannosaurus is going to have the advantage. Not only will it be more familiar with the environment but it will also be more manoeuvrable too. Its also faster on the land and its not hindered by that big sail. Down by the water however Spino obviously has the clear advantage. In the water its faster, it can strike like lightening. It could easily leap out and grab a Tyrannosaurus and pull it into the water where the Rex would be helpless in no time.
Really trying to say who would win in a fight between Tyrannosaurus and Spinosaurus in the wild is like saying who would win in a fight between a Crocodile and a Lion.
Sometimes the Croc will win, sometimes the lion will kill the Croc for various reasons. You can never say who will win for sure.
If Tyrannosaurus and Spinosaurus did get brought back from extinction either through cloning or time travel and were forced to live on the same island then they most likely would never bother each other. Large carnivores like Crocodiles and Lions generally give each other a wide berth as a fight with another large predator could end very badly for them even if they win.
A Lion might kill a Crocodile, but the Croc could still break its leg in the fight in which case the Lion is fucked. It wont be able to hunt, fight off other Lions to defend its territory, it eventually won’t even be able to fight off a pack of Hyena’s.
Thus unless they are desperate most large predators will instead hunt herbivore’s who aren’t as big a threat to them.
Tyrannosaurus and Spinosaurus would most likely be the same. Rather than risk losing an eye or breaking a leg trying to take down the other big guy on the block, they’d probably have much rather gone after a helpless, hapless Hadrosaur.
So bearing this in mind a fight in the wild between Tyrannosaurus and Spinosaurus if they ever did live in the same habitat would be a very rare thing indeed and if ever it did happen it would be impossible to predict the outcome due to so many outside factors. Both have a good chance of killing the other that much is true, but things like the age of the Dinosaurs, whether they were alone or even where they were fighting would all have to be taken into account.
Thus I’d give Tyrannosaurus and Spinosaurus a 50/50 chance of killing each other in the wild.
What about in more controlled circumstances however?
Lets imagine its an alternate universe where the Dinosaurs were never driven to extinction.
Trodon’s, small intelligent meat eating Dinosaurs evolved into intelligent humanoids, Dinosauroids.
Believe it or not Richard Dawkins has said that this could have happened.
The Dinosauroids develop an advanced society like us and just as we used to capture Lions and Tigers and pit them against each other in death matches to see who was the king of the Jungle well then lets imagine the Dinosauroids start capturing Spinosaurus and Tyrannosaurus and start pitting them against each other in order to see who is the king of the beasts.
This is a fair fight two young, healthy males, in an arena that is a completely neutral environment. No jungle, no water, both are land animals (even if Spinosaurus spent a lot of time in the water) both are hungry, have no way of escape. Who wins this fight?
Well once again we have to take certain factors into account.
How big are the Tyrannosaurus and the Spinosaurus for instance?
If its a twenty three ton Spinosaurus against a 9 ton Tyrannosaurus then forget it. Its a curb stomp in favour of Spinosaurus. The size difference between the animals in that scenario is too big. Yes a 9 ton Tyrannosaurus would still have a bigger bite than a Spinosaurus, but sadly that wouldn’t do it any good.
Plenty of predators with massive bites are still killed by predators larger than they are.
Take a look at Lions vs Hyena’s or Killer Whales vs Great White Sharks. The White Shark and the Hyena have bigger bites than the Lion and the Killer Whale but they still always lose in one on one fights because the other predator is just too big to mess with.
The size difference between a 23 ton Spinosaurus and a 9 tone Tyrannosaurus is not quite the same as that between a Shark and a Whale but the Spino is still close to 3 times heavier than the Rex and thus I’d expect a similar result.
Still this is not exactly a fair fight. Taking the highest estimate for Spinosaurus and pitting it against the lowest for Tyrannosaurus. Remember that Tyrannosaurus was said to have gotten to 21 short tons in which case there is only a two ton difference between them.
Also remember that whilst most experts agree that Spinosaurus was longer than Tyrannosaurus many believe that it was not as heavy as it had a considerably lighter build and frame.
So with this in mind if we did have a Tyrannosaurus that was heaver even just by a ton against a Spinosaurus then I think it would be a curb stomp in favour of the Tyrannosaurus. Spino’s biggest advantage is its superior weight, and without that then Tyrannosaurus is its superior in every way. Faster, smarter, stronger, Spino is sadly outclassed and an angry bull Rex could rip it limb from limb. The same applies for two specimens the same size.
In order for this to be a fair fight for both lets have a 21 ton Tyrannosaurus go up against a 23 ton Spinosaurus or a 7 ton Tyrannosaurus go up against 9 ton Spinosaurus.
Lets also say that this is a two legged Spinosaurus. Some experts believe that Spinosaurus was a four legged animal, though there is not conclusive evidence for this. A four legged Spinosaurus would be at a real height disadvantage against a Tyrannosaurus. Its neck would be right open to a more fleet footed in comparison Tyrannosaurus and whilst it could rear up to use its claws it would be too awkward to use them against a Tyrannosaurus as those who believe Spinosaurus was a four legged animal believe that on land the creature would have been clumsy as its legs were small. Really I think this would be another fight that would be overwhelmingly in favour of Tyrannosaurus.
So lets make this fight between a two legged 59 foot long Spinosaurus that weighs 23 tons and a 42 foot long Tyrannosaurus that weighs about 21 tons.
Who wins this fight?
Well again I’d give this to Tyrannosaurus Rex. It wouldn’t be a curb stomp. I’d say Tyrannosaurus would win 60 percent of the time.
Fact is as ferocious as Spinosaurus is, its simply outclassed in too many ways by old Rexy.
To start with T-Rex is faster which is very important in a fight. Also T-Rex is smarter. Now you might not think that matters with two animals but it does. For instance in fights between Lions and Tigers, the Tigers greater intelligence is a huge advantage as the Tiger is smart enough to rear on its back legs unlike the Lion who only strikes with one paw. Thus the Tiger can strike the Lion in the face with both paws and overwhelm it. Likewise killer whales when fighting Great Whites will often flip them on their belly and hold them there until they pass out.
Whose to say in a similar confrontation Tyrannosaurus wouldn’t be able to figure out any weaknesses Spinosaurus had? It certainly would be more likely too than Spinosaurus.
Also in terms of weapons Tyrannosaurus has the advantage. To start with its jaws are much more deadly than Spinosaurus claws and it can use them a lot more easily.
When the two animals faced one another Tyrannosaurus could reach out and bite Spinosaurus on the neck much more easily than Spino could use its claws.
When the two predators faced the weapons they would both be more likely to use would bee their jaws. Spinosaurus’s arms would have been too short to reach out and grab the Tyrannosaurus. Its not like King Kong whose arms can reach out and hold the Tyrannosaur at bay before it can bite him.
See how Kongs arms are useful weapons because they are long. Spino’s though bigger than Tyrannosaurus’s could not reach out past its face.
So if Tyrannosaurus and Spinosaurus faced each other then they would rely on their jaws, as in order to use its claws then Spinosaurus would have to get too near to Tyrannosaurus and leave itself open to a bite.
In a biting match well its obvious who’s going to win isn’t it? Tyrannosaurus Rex’s were known to bite each other in the face regularly and since their bites were possibly almost 8 times that of a Spinosaurus then its safe to say T. Rex could take a bite from a Spinosaurus to the face whilst Spinosaurus most certainly could not take a bite from a Tyrannosaurus.
All Tyrannosaurus would need would be one bite and the Spinosaurus would be finished. If it bit it on the neck it would crush the bones in its neck effortlessly. Even the lowest estimates of a Tyrannosaurus bite which are now thought to be inaccurate could crush an entire car and rip off over 500 pounds of flesh. Thus a Spinosaurus’s neck would be no problem whatsoever.
Even if Tyrannosaurus bit it on the arm it would have been strong enough to rip the animals entire arm off. Even if it just bit it on the side then it would have ripped off 500 pounds of flesh in one bite and the wound would have become infected too.
The fact that Tyrannosaurus Rex was faster and had better vision would have given it a much better chance of striking a deadly blow against the Spinosaurus.
Spinosaurus’s claws though deadly weapons could not have killed Tyrannosaurus instantly. I think it would need a few slashes to bring it down. Remember Tyrannosaurus’s are animals that could withstand injuries like a bite to the brain case or a broken neck so it would take a while for Spinosaurus’s claws which would be very difficult for it to use anyway to bring the Rex down.
Spinosaurus also could not use its claws to twist Tyrannosaurus’s neck like in Jurassic Park 3 as Spinosaurus’s hands could only face each other as though they were clapping. If they tried to bend round then they would have broken, the same is also true of other meat eating dinosaurs such as Tyrannosaurus itself.
This would not have been possible without Spinosaurus breaking both of its hands. Thus all it could use its claws for would be to slash Tyrannosaurus from side to side across the face.
I could see Spinosaurus kill Tyrannosaurus two different ways in this scenario. It could quickly ram Tyrannosaurus and knock the monster off its feet which its superior weight would allow it to do. When Tyrannosaurus was on the floor it would be easier for Spinosaurus to slash at Tyrannosaurus with its claws. Provided it went for the Rex’s throat it could get a quick kill if it cut its jugular.
Another scenario where Spinosaurus could win against the Rex would be if it bit it on the neck and pulled it towards its arms which its superior body mass might allow it to do. It would then uses its claws to repeatedly slash at Tyrannosaurus’s face and its eyes over and over again until the pain and blood loss weakened Tyrannosaurus to the point where it couldn’t fight back.
Whilst it most certainly would be possible for the Spinosaurus to kill the Tyrannosaurus these ways, at the same time Spinosaurus would be putting itself in danger. When Tyrannosaurus fell on the ground and Spinosaurus tried to slash it Tyrannosaurus could reach up and bite its arm crushing it. Or similarly when Spinosaurus bit Tyrannosaurus by the neck T. Rex could reach up and bit it on the neck in which case once again it would be over for the Spinosaurus or it could bite at its arms too.
Tyrannosaurus on the other hand I can see winning more easily. The two would face each other and charge at each other instinctively using their jaws, Tyrannosaurus who is a lot faster would be able to dodge it a lot more easily and then strike at the Spino’s neck. One bite would either kill it or disable it so much that it would be too weak to fight and then a few more bites from T-Rex would enough to finish the Spinosaurus.
Thus whilst the Spino could certainly kill T.Rex then I simply see T. Rex being able to kill the Spino much more easily and therefore I am going to have say that Tyrannosaurus would be the more likely winner.
So then in conclusion as to who would win in a fight with Tyrannosaurus and Spinosaurus well I see it like this
In the wild Tyrannosaurus and Spinosaurus would have a 50/50 chance of killing each other.
In a Dinosauroid arena match however
23 ton Spinosaurus vs 9 ton Tyrannosaurus 100 percent in favour of the Spinosaurus.
Tyrannosaurus that is slightly heavier or the same size in weight as Spinosaurus 80 percent in favour of the Tyrannosaurus.
4 legged 23 ton Spinosaurus against a 21 ton Tyrannosaurus 70 percent in favour of the Tyrannosaurus.
21 ton Tyrannosaurus against a 23 ton Spinosaurus 60 percent in favour of the Tyrannosaurus.
Thus the Tyrannosaurus wins in more scenario’s but Spinosaurus is a worthy foe at least and it would most certainly be capable of killing a T. Rex and hey the only time that I feel there would ever be an absolute 100 percent chance of one animal killing the other would be in Spinosaurus’s favour.
Ultimately however Tyrannosaurus I simply feel at the end of the day was a superior predator and thus in most scenario’s would kill its rival.