The name "Vastatosaurus rex" means "ravager lizard king," being derived from the Latin word vastato, which is a conjugation of the word vasto meaning to "devastate, ravage, or to lay waste." The word saurus is derived from the ancient Greek word sauros (σαυροσ), meaning "lizard," and finally, rex is a Latin word meaning "king."
In-universe, the V-Rex is named by sailor Sam Kelley in the prequel novel King Kong: The Island of the Skull, where he initially mistook it for a Tyrannosaurus, but changed his mind after observing its size and ferocity.
Unlike its ancestor Tyrannosaurus rex, V-Rex has a more oval-shaped skull with a mouth full of thick, fully exposed, asymmetrical teeth. V-Rex also has a few teeth that are located outside of its mouth on its lower jaw. V-Rex has three fingers instead of two like Tyrannosaurus. Vastatosaurus rex has fully scaled skin with scutes spanning its neck and back. Its coloration is a whitish-gray with a yellowish underbelly while its eyes are orange with small black circular pupils.
The family that appears in the film each has their own unique appearance. The juvenile has bigger feet and less developed muscles, the matriarch is scarred and older than the three with wrinkly, sagging skin, and the bull is fitter than the matriarch and sports a crest.
While Ann Darrow was being chased by a Foetodon, a juvenile Vastatosaurus rex appeared and killed the Foetodon by crushing it with its jaws. Upon seeing Ann, the V-Rex chased after her. Ann managed to hide on a fallen tree, but a second V-Rex, a bull, appeared and attacked her. Thankfully, King Kong arrived and rescued Ann. The bull attacked Kong and was soon joined by the juvenile. Kong took on both V-Rexes, only to find himself attacked by a third one, the matriarch. Kong quickly killed the juvenile by smashing its head with a boulder. The other two V-Rexes then tackled Kong off a cliff, causing them to become tangled in vines. Kong battled the V-Rexes through the mess of vines and tried to reach Ann. Eventually, Kong grabbed Ann and got free from the vines, dropping to the ground below. The bull got free as well and prepared to resume the battle. Ann retreated behind Kong and allowed him to defend her. After a vicious struggle, Kong grabbed the V-Rex's jaws and pried them apart until they snapped, killing the mighty saurian.
One year before the events of King Kong, a Vastatosaurus happened upon a pack of Venatosaurus in a clearing. It quickly defeated them and spent the day eating them until only their bones remained. The next day, it, or another of its species, came across a group of humans and chased them into a clearing where they found shelter in a cave. Not wanting to give up so easily, the Vastatosaurus waited in the cave entrance through the night, and a bad rainstorm. In the morning, the humans began running from the cave. Some of them escaped because the Vastatosaurus had settled itself at the other side of the clearing for the time being, but he was able to eat a few of them before Kong arrived.
- Vastatosaurus rex is a tribute to the Tyrannosaurus rex from the original 1933 King Kong in that it not only is a descendant of T-Rex, but it also shares aspects of the T-Rex's design from the 1933 film such as having three fingers and pebbly skin. King Kong's fight with the last V-Rex is also a recreation of his fight with the T-Rex in the original film, ending with Kong breaking its jaw.
- The V-Rexes encountered by Kong in the film are confirmed to be a family, including a juvenile, a bull and a matriarch.
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