Everything Dinosaur team members have been examining generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) and how this exciting new technology might change the company. Recently, to commemorate the ninety-seventh birthday of Sir David Attenborough, Everything Dinosaur asked ChatGPT to write a short blog post. The ChatGPT artificial intelligence wrote a short biography of the naturalist and broadcaster. We also asked ChatGPT to compose a short birthday message to Sir David.

To read the ChatGPT blog post: Happy Birthday Sir David Attenborough.

Five Facts About Tyrannosaurus rex

Artificial intelligence has a myriad of applications. As part of our testing programme to assess the scope of the current technology, we challenged ChatGPT (version 3.5) to provide Everything Dinosaur with five facts about Tyrannosaurus rex.

Rebor T. rex Tusk dinosaur model.
The Rebor T. rex Tusk King T. rex Requiem model is supplied with a clear plastic support base, but our models appear quite stable even standing on our office carpet without the need for the support stand. Can ChatGPT provide five facts about this famous dinosaur? Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

The picture (above) shows a Tyrannosaurus figure from Rebor (Tusk).

To view the range of Rebor models and figures: Rebor Prehistoric Animal Models and Figures.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Testing ChatGPT

In response to our question “list five facts about Tyrannosaurus rex, here are the five facts about T. rex that ChatGPT compiled:

1). Tyrannosaurus rex lived during the Late Cretaceous period (approximately 68 to 65 million years ago).

It is true that T. rex lived during the Late Cretaceous however, we would take issue with the temporal range suggested. The date of the end-Cretaceous extinction event and the demise of the non-avian Dinosauria is now thought to have occurred around 66 million years ago. T. rex is known from several Upper Cretaceous North American formations, dating the fossil bones is notoriously difficult.

The Size of Tyrannosaurus rex

2). Tyrannosaurus rex was one of the largest land predators ever to exist, measuring up to 12 metres (40 feet) long and weighing up to 6.8 metric tonnes (15,000 pounds).

We will not dispute the ChatGPT comment about T. rex being one of the largest land predators ever. However, the size estimates could be disputed. For example, the biggest specimens described to date “Sue” and “Scotty” measure more than 12 metres in length. The robust “Scotty” is estimated to be around 13 metres long with a body weight calculated at approximately 8.8 tonnes (19,400 pounds).

3). Tyrannosaurus rex had a powerful bite force of up to 12,800 pounds per square inch – enough to crush the bones of its prey.

Not much to dispute here. There has been a considerable amount of research into the potential bite force of an adult animal. A study published in 2012 (Bates and Falkingham) did indeed suggest a bite force around 12,800 lbs, for the teeth located in the back of the mouth. The researchers suggested a potential range of bite forces, with 12,800 lbs being at the upper end of their estimates.

Banana-shaped Eyes?

4). Tyrannosaurus rex had two large, banana-shaped eyes which gave it good depth perception and probably excellent vision.

This is not true, T. rex did not have two large, banana-shaped eyes. We suspect that this is the GenAI confusing two aspects of tyrannosaur cranial anatomy. Something that a real person would intuitively consider incorrect. T. rex is famous for its large teeth, often described as being banana-shaped. Its eyes were spherical and quite big, about the size of a tennis ball.

ChatGPT is correct when it asserts that it had good depth perception and probably excellent vision. Many palaeontologists suggest that T. rex had vision as good as a modern-day bird of prey.

Rebor GrabNGo 02 T. rex Type A (Anterior View). T. rex named by Henry Fairfield Osborn.
The Rebor GrabNGo 02 T. rex Type A in anterior view. T. rex probably had excellent, binocular vision. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

5). Tyrannosaurus rex had a small brain compared to its body size, with a brain volume of only 1.5 litres (2.6 pints).

It is accurate to state that T. rex had a small brain relative to its body mass. This does not provide a measure of intelligence. For example, many birds such as crows and pigeons have small brains, but they are capable of solving complex problems and prodigious feats of memory and navigation. The statement about brain volume could also be disputed. Soft tissue preservation in the fossil record is exceptionally rare. No T. rex brain tissue has yet been found.

Brain size assessments are based on the volume of the braincase as calculated when skull bones are reconstructed. It would also be incorrect to assume that the brain of a Tyrannosaurus rex would completely fill the braincase, so only the maximum potential brain volume can be calculated.

To read a recent article about calculating T. rex brain size: How Big was the Brain of T. rex?

How Did ChatGPT Do?

Whilst errors can be identified in the answers given, we congratulate ChatGPT. It was a credible effort, particularly since the data set that the programme was working on was last updated in September 2021 or thereabouts.

The use of GenAI in writing books about dinosaurs, teaching about dinosaurs and perhaps providing updated display boards in museums is not too far away.

In the meantime, visit Everything Dinosaur’s website: Everything Dinosaur.