(MCT) -- LOS ANGELES - Talk about a triple threat. If you thought tyrannosaurs weren't scary enough, try three of them at the same time. Turns out these fearsome beasts weren't solitary hunters - they ran in gangs, according to a study of the first fossil tyrannosaurid trackways ever discovered.
The three sets of fossil footprints, described in a PLOS One paper called "A Terror of Tyrannosaurs," show clear evidence that these animals were "gregarious": They operated in packs rather than alone, as once thought.
While paleontologists have dug up a decent number of tyrannosaur bones, their footprints have been few and far between, according to the study led by Richard McCrea, a researcher at Peace Region Palaeontology Research Center. Those few that have been found are single, solitary footprints, not part of a trail. And that's too bad, because a series of footprints (referred to as "trackways") can reveal certain things that bones alone may not, including the animal's gait, how fast it could go and who it was traveling with at the time.
But in October 2011, Aaron Fredlund,a local guide-outfitter, found the first two prints of the animal's trackway in northeastern British Columbia, and the remaining prints were later uncovered by researchers and volunteers. The trackways were named in honor of the man who discovered the first prints: Bellatoripes fredlundi. (Bellatorius is Latin for "warlike," an homage to these terrifying predators.)