Dinosaurs’ ferocious fight to the death

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Duelling dinosaurs. Picture: North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences media_cameraDuelling dinosaurs. Picture: North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences


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The spectacular discovery of two giant dinosaurs apparently locked in mortal combat* is being investigated by an Australian geologist*.

The fossilised Tyrannosaurus rex and Triceratops were discovered tangled together, believed to have died during a ferocious duel before sinking into swamp flood plain in Montana in the US around 66 million years ago, the Late Cretaceous period.

“The Triceratops is reported to have teeth in its spine and pelvis* and the T-rex seems to have broken teeth and fractures that may be associated with trauma*,” James Cook University’s Associate Professor Eric Roberts said.

“Both are extraordinarily well-preserved — each specimen is among the most complete of its kind ever found. It’s arguably one of the most amazing dinosaur fossil discoveries ever.”

media_cameraThe foot of the triceratops. Picture: James Cook University

While the discovery was made in the US by fossil hunters in 2006, a long legal battle about whether the find was owned by the landowner or the mining right holder has only just been resolved.

Dr Roberts has done preliminary geological work on the site and intends to return next year as borders reopen to discover, along with student Stuart Hodgson, how the sandstone has preserved the huge animals in such complete form.

media_cameraPart of the Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton. Picture: James Cook University

Only part of the fossils have been unearthed so far, but the pair have been bought by a non-profit group and donated to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in the US for an undisclosed* price, believed to be at least several million dollars.

“The project will take several years to complete, because most of the fossils are still entombed* in rock matrix* that must be carefully prepared at the museum before we can fully examine them and test the hypothesis* of these as duelling dinosaurs.”

The fossils are set to be housed at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and will be studied in a palaeontology* lab due to open in 2022.

media_cameraA foot of Tyrannosaurus rex. Picture: James Cook University


mortal combat: fight until one or both die

geologist: rock scientist

pelvis: lower part of the abdomen above the legs

trauma: physical injury

undisclosed: information not shared

entombed: encased in rock

matrix: a mass of fine-grained rock in which gems, crystals, or fossils are embedded

hypothesis: idea to be tested

palaeontology: study of fossils


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Which two dinosaurs were fighting?

How long ago did they live?

Where were they found and when?

Why is a geologist working on this?

What leads the scientists to believe they were fighting?


1. Make Your Own Dinosaur Skeleton
Using these inspirational fossil pictures of duelling dinosaurs, create your own dinosaur skeleton. You could use materials such as matchsticks, toothpicks, pasta, cardboard or clay. You can choose to do a single dinosaur or more than one as seen in the fossils in the Kids News article.

Display your dinosaur skeleton on black paper so it stands out.

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: Science, Visual Arts

2. Extension
What do you think these dinosaurs were fighting about?

Which dinosaur do you think would have won the fight?

How could large creatures such as dinosaurs live harmoniously on Earth together?

Discuss these questions with a partner.

Time: allow 10 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: Science, Personal and social, Critical and creative thinking


An adjective is a describing word. They are often found describing a noun. To start with look at the words before the nouns.

Search for all the adjectives you can find in the article

Did you find any repeat adjectives or are they all different?


Pick three of your favourite adjectives from the text and put them in your own sentences to show other ways to use them.

Have you used any in your writing?


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