08.05.2019
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T-Rex found new relatives

Recently discovered fossils have filled the missing link in dinosaur evolution

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Paleontologists recently announced in the scientific journal Nature Ecology & Evolution that the ferocious Tyrannosaurus Rex evolved from dinosaurs as tall as a small child.

Newly discovered dinosaur, called Suskityrannus hazelae, weighed approximately from 20 to 40 pounds. Its height reached only 90 centimeters. Tyrannosaurus Rex weighed about 9 tons and had a length of about 12 meters.

The lead author of the study, Sterling Nesbitt, a paleontologist from Virginia Tech in the US, said that the fossils of the cousin of Tyrannosaurus Rex represent one of the best examples of how a smaller family of dinosaurs evolved into monstrous superhuman.

Fossilized bones of S. hazelae, which existed about 92 million years ago on the territory of modern Western new Mexico (Photo: VIRGINIA TECH)
Fossilized bones of S. hazelae, which existed about 92 million years ago on the territory of modern Western new Mexico (Photo: VIRGINIA TECH)

«A small group of dinosaurs spawned the biggest predators we’ve ever seen», Nesbitt said.

On Monday, it was reported that Suskityrannus hazelae is an intermediate between smaller tyrannosaurs and giant, the last surviving members of the species.

«Suskityrannus is a key link between bone huge dinosaurs, such as Tyrannosaurus Rex and smaller types from which they evolved», said Steve Brusatte, a paleontologist from the University of Edinburgh. He added: «The New species shows that tyrannosaurs developed many of their characteristic features, such as a muscular skull, a wide mouth, and cushioning legs when they were still small».

The scientist shows how small a part of the skull of S. hazelae is compared to the casting of the full-size part of the jaw of a Tyrannosaurus Rex (Photo: VIRGINIA TECH)
The scientist shows how small a part of the skull of S. hazelae is compared to the casting of the full-size part of the jaw of a Tyrannosaurus Rex (Photo: VIRGINIA TECH)

It is believed that Suskityrannus hazelae existed 92 million years ago, about 20 million years before Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Nesbitt says he first discovered the incomplete skeleton of Suskityrannus hazelae in new Mexico in 1997 and another more complete specimen in 1998. But in the decades that followed, scientists weren’t sure what it was until other fossils of smaller Tyrannosaurus Rex brethren were discovered.

Nesbitt found fossils of S. hazelae in 1997 when he was a teenager (Photo: hazel wolf)

Another tiny relative of Rex, Moros the Fearless, was discovered in February and is believed to have lived 96 million years ago.

«Suskityrannus gives us an idea of the evolution of tyrannosaurs just before they took over the planet», Nesbitt said.

The report notes that Tyrannosaurus Rex roamed the earth for only 15 million years before the species was destroyed. Smaller tyrannosaurs are thought to have existed 150 million years before Tyrannosaurus Rex. Incomplete paleontological data make it difficult to determine how dinosaur species evolved during this period of time.

Although the discovery helps to understand how Tyrannosaurus Rex evolved, paleontologists say it is still unclear why small carnivorous dinosaurs evolved to become so large.

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