Riley Black, writing for Smithsonian magazine, reports on new findings that tyrannosaurs dominated their ecosystems because juveniles and adolescents operated in different ecological niches. “The differences between adult and adolescent tyrannosaurs were so great that the animals almost lived like different species, pushing out mid-sized carnivores in a prehistoric takeover.” So instead of smaller carnivorous dinosaurs hunting smaller prey, you had younger tyrannosaurs.
In the Jurassic Park movies, the Tyrannosaurus rex is more than a deadly predator bent on eating everyone and everything in its path. It also serves a key plot function above and beyond that of mere antagonist.
You are perhaps familiar with the concept of deus ex machina? Wikipedia calls it “a plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly resolved by the inspired and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability or object. Its function can be to resolve an otherwise irresolvable plot situation, to surprise the audience, to bring the tale to a happy ending, or act as a comedic device.” It’s the sudden rescue at the end, the long-lost relative who adopts you as their heir, the bacteria that kill the Martians just before all is lost.
I’d like to propose the idea of the T. rex machina—the plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly resolved by the inspired and unexpected intervention of a T. rex.