With its massive head and large teeth, there is no question that Daspletosaurus was an apex predator (Late Cretaceous Period; 75 million years ago) and was one of the largest tryannosaurs. It got its name because of its apparent ferociousness; its name means "frightful lizard." Daspletosaurus was a carnivorous dinosaur that lived in the Cretaceous Period. It is devolved from (meaning it evolved into) Tyrannosaurus rex and other tyrannosaurids. Similar to other members, it had a powerful jaw and short arms. It had a huge body balanced upon two powerful back legs. The three-toed taloned feet (much like those of a modern bird) probably held the prey down while it ate. Like all tyrannosaurids, the front limbs were short and had only two fingers each. An attack from a Daspletosaurus or its relative Albertosaurus would have been a nasty way to go, due to their brute strength, robust teeth and jaws powerful enough to puncture through bone.Daspletosaurus lived at the same time as its relatives Albertosaurus and Gorgosaurus. How two large meat-eating dinosaurs could have lived side-by-side is a mystery. Perhaps it was much like the African lion and the cheetah living together in East Africa today. These two cats have different methods of hunting, and they prey on different animals. The lion relies on stealth to get close to its prey (buffalo, zebra, etc.), and the slender, fast cheetah runs down its prey. It is possible that Daspletosaurus, with its massive head and body, might have stalked the ceratopsians, while the more slender, quick Gorgosaurus might have run down hadrosaurs. Daspletosaurus and ceratopsians are less common than Gorgosaurus and hadrosaurs in the badlands of Alberta.
In Popular CultureIn Dinosaur Planet, a young Daspletosaurus named Das lives in a pack including his mother and two sisters. They make several attempts to take down a young Maiasaura named Buck but die in a volcano explosion. In the end, the narrator explains that Daspletosaurus has evolved into Tyrannosaurus and a young T. rex shown with his mother looks very similar to Das.
Daspletosaurus makes an appearance in Last Killers from BBC Planet Dinosaur, with a pack of them hunting down a Chasmosaurus, succeeding. However, the two larger Daspletosaurus stole their kill as the others will have to wait for their share of the kill. Also, in the same episode, Daspletosaurus makes another appearance in which they are waiting for the migration of a herd of Centrosaurus. The Daspletosaurus make their attack during a harsh rainstorm, killing some of the ceratopsians. Though, the Centrosaurus make it to a flooded river and start swimming across, and some are eaten by giant crocodilians, perhaps Deinosuchus, although some Centrosaurus make it to the other side. The next day, the carcasses are attracted by scavengers, especially Daspletosaurus.