Dino Isle Chapter 8: Tyrant King

Thump. Thump.

Charlie and Nick shrank into the trees and tried to stay as still as possible. Approaching them was a huge dinosaur with a long mouth full of sharp teeth, and a low back sail. They held their breath – and it kept going.

Right towards the Carnotaurus the two had been observing.

John and Lily had left about a week ago after a little more exploring together and a bunch of good-byes, taking most of the old samples with them. After inspecting and finishing organizing the new supplies, Nick and Charlie had taken an overnight trip to a far corner of the island. They had followed a herd of Hadrosaurs for some time as well as stumbled across a Tyrannosaurus nesting ground – fortunately their new dirt-bikes were near at hand then so they were able to escape the angry parents.

Today, they were on their way out for a two or three night trip out to the other side of the island. On the way they had seen a group of Carnotaurus stalking a herd of Ankylosauruses. The Spinosauruses had managed to single out a weaker one, and most of them had eaten a bit before wandering off. The largest was still eating when the Spinosaurus had appeared.

“Psst. Nick. Spinosaurus!” whispered Charlie, “one of the largest dinosaurs there ever was!”

Nick was already filming, but he said (in silly voices): “argh, rawr, I’m the biggest baddest carnivore! This clearing ain’t big enough for the two of us.”

Charlie giggled but kept his own camera on the pair.

The Carnotaurus’s family was far enough away to not be in danger but were clearly unsure whether to help their large kin or flee the bigger carnivore. The Spinosaurus stomped and growled. The Carnotaurus turned, growled back, but then thought better of it. Taking one last bite of meat, it stamped away towards its family. The Spinosaurus, satisfied with what was left of the Ankylosaurus for now, let it leave without further disturbing it.

Yeah, that’s what I thought.” said Nick.

Charlie giggled. “That was one of the least violent encounters we’ve seen. The Carnotaurus was smart though – he’s no match for a Spinosaurus.”

“Yeah, that was a good call. Better to walk away hungry than not at all,” replied Nick. “It does mean we can’t easily collect any tissue samples or DNA from it, but that’s probably fine.”

“Maybe the Spinosaurus will lose a tooth in the meal, that would be nice both to study and as a memento,” said Charlie.

“Ok, it’s just about time for a break. We can wait around a bit and if the Spinosaurus leaves before too long we can take a look.”

That didn’t take long, as there wasn’t much of the poor Ankylosaurus. Nick and Charlie spent several minutes quickly but carefully photographing, collecting, and labeling samples from the scene before moving on.

They reached their destination, as the sun was setting, leaving just enough time to set up a sheltered campsite for the night. There was rain that night, so not much more work was done.

Their destination for this trip was an area near the fossil bed they had studied from the chopper. Scans from the air had not shown any good way to get up to that area from the crater, so they spent the morning scouting the area to get to know the area generally and also for a path up. They had found a fairly sheltered area near where that rock formation met with the crater valley and done their best to stay out of reach of hungry predators.

While the geology of the area was quite different from the rest of the island, consisting of sedimentary rocks, the animals and plants were much the same as elsewhere.

“Maybe this used to be two different islands,” theorized Nick, “which just crashed together some time in the last 66 million years. I don’t see how else you’d get dinosaur fossils all the way up there and living dinosaurs down here.”

“Yeah, maybe the plate – they’re called plates, right? Maybe the big volcano was on a small plate and it went under the edge of the one with those fossils,” suggested Charlie. “I guess if that had been going on long enough ago it could explain the big volcano too, right?”

“Maybe,” said Nick. “We ought to recommend they send some geologists here next time.”

As they went through some more trees they heard running water – a small spring was nearby. They checked for dangers, then Nick took out some testing equipment to see if it would be safe to drink. “Looks clean, but we should probably run it through the filters anyway,” he pronounced.

They took advantage of the opportunity to refill their canteens as well as marking down the location on a map. As they sat, they watched as several smaller dinosaurs came by to drink as well. A small theropod, roughly as tall as Nick when walking but over twice as long head-to-tail as he was tall, also came to get a drink.

“That’s a Rugops! I’m surprised to see that one,” said Charlie.

The two took that as a hint to set up some cameras to start recording what else they were seeing while they finished packing away their water.

As they continued on their way, they broke into a clearing and suddenly stopped. A large theropod was digging into some unfortunate prey it had captured.

“That’s not a T-rex, but it looks a lot like one,” observed Nick, quietly.

“No, it’s not. It looks like a Giganotosaurus. About the same size, but see the longer arms and three claws?” Charlie corrected. “Fossils of them are around 95 million years old, so this might be another one of those weird ones we didn’t expect.”

The two started taking out their usual recording equipment when a loud roar echoed through the clearing – they froze.

Stamping towards the Giganotosaurus was another predator – similar in size but slightly different, but much more familiar looking to every dinosaur fan everywhere. The new theropod had two long, strong legs with three-clawed feet, two short, virtually vestigial arms with two small claws each, and a mouth full of teeth like something out of a nightmare.

It was a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

“What’s he doing here?” asked Charlie. “There’s a T-rex family off that way, is this one on its own? Why’s he facing down this Giga instead of hunting his own meal?”

“Shhh… probably better not to ask questions too loudly when a dinosaur is acting strange,” said Nick. “Never know what other unexpected things they’ll do, and no point reminding either that we’re here.”

Charlie took the advice, but the two did their best to start gathering pictures and videos. Nick sent a drone out to the other side of the clearing, doing his best to keep it out of view of the two hunters who seemed intent on battling over the Giganotosaurus’s lunch.

The Giganotosaurus turned as if to run, then stopped, shook its head quickly, and turned back to the T-Rex and growled. The T-rex seemed particularly aggravated with the Giganotosaurus and took that as an opportunity to charge. The T-rex bit at the Giga, but the Giga’s longer arms helped it push away the other dinosaur. The Rex backed up, and the Giganotosaurus tried the same thing. With only tiny arms, the T-rex had to pick a different strategy, and it responded by backing up and lashing its tail towards the Giga’s ankles before backing up.

The two predators battled for several minutes, but the T-rex was clearly more angry. The Giganotosaurus seemed to be growing increasingly agitated but continued the fight until the T-rex finally got a good bite into the Giganotosaurus’s leg. The injured Giganotosaurus went down one last time, and the triumphant Tyrannosaurus bellowed in victory.

Nick and Charlie stared silently at the scene, then looked silently at each other. This fight had been unlike any they’d really seen so far – all the other fights between predators had ended with one stalking off, hungry but alive. This one had seemed almost personal.

Right as they started to stand up to see if they collect samples, they froze again as they heard:“Woo-ee, what a fight. Our Giga sure hung in there long this time, didn’t it?