Long lost cousin of T. rex identified by scientists

Apr 01, 2011
Long lost cousin of T. rex identified by scientists
Scientists have identified a new species of gigantic theropod dinosaur, a close relative of T. rex, from fossil skull and jaw bones discovered in China. According to findings published online April 1, 2011, in the scientific journal Cretaceous Research, the newly named dinosaur species “Zhuchengtyrannus magnus” probably measured about 11 metres long, stood about 4 meters tall, and weighed close to 6 tons. Comparable in size and scale to the legendary T. rex, this new dinosaur is one of the largest theropod (carnivorous) dinosaurs ever identified by scientists. Credit: Courtesy of Robert Nicholls (copyright)

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists have identified a new species of gigantic theropod dinosaur, a close relative of T. rex, from fossil skull and jaw bones discovered in China.

According to findings published online in the scientific journal , the newly named dinosaur species "Zhuchengtyrannus magnus" probably measured about 11 metres long, stood about 4 metres tall, and weighed close to 6 tonnes.

Comparable in size and scale to the legendary T. rex, this new dinosaur is one of the largest theropod (carnivorous) ever identified by scientists.

Alongside T. rex and the Asian Tarbosaurus, Zhuchengtyrannus magnus is one of a specialised group of gigantic theropods called tyrannosaurines. The tyrannosaurines existed in North America and eastern Asia during the Late Cretaceous Period, which lasted from about 99 to 65 million years ago.

"Zhuchengtyrannus can be distinguished from other tyrannosaurines by a combination of unique features in the skull not seen in any other theropod," explains Dr David Hone from the UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science at University College Dublin, Ireland, the lead author of the scientific paper.

"With only some skull and to work with, it is difficult to precisely gauge the overall size of this animal. But the bones we have are just a few centimetres smaller than the equivalent ones in the largest T. rex specimen. So there is no doubt that Zhuchengtyrannus was a huge tyrannosaurine."

"We named the new genus Zhuchengtyrannus magnus - which means the 'Tyrant from Zhucheng' - because the bones were found in the city of Zhucheng, in eastern China's Shandong Province," says Dr Hone.

A key member of the international team of scientists involved in the study is Professor Xu Xing of the Beijing Institute of and Paleoanthropology in China. Professor Xu has named more than 30 dinosaurs, making him the world leader in describing new .

The tyrannosaurines, the group including T. rex and its closest relatives, were huge carnivores characterised by small arms, two-fingered hands, and large powerful jaws that could have delivered a powerful bone-crushing bite. They were likely both predators and scavengers.

Together with nearby sites, the quarry in Shandong Province, eastern China where the remains of this huge carnivore were found contains one of the largest concentrations of dinosaur bones in the world. Most of the specimens recovered from the quarry belong to a gigantic species of hadrosaur, or duck-billed dinosaur. Research suggests that the area contains so many dinosaur fossils because it was a large flood plain where many dinosaur bodies were washed together during floods and fossilised.

Explore further: Researchers explore shipwrecks near San Francisco

More information: A new tyrannosaurine theropod, Zhuchengtyrannus magnus is named based on a maxilla and dentary, Cretaceous Research, doi:10.1016/j.cretres.2011.03.005

Provided by University College Dublin

3.7 /5 (12 votes)

Related Stories

What did T. rex eat? Each other

Oct 15, 2010

It turns out that the undisputed king of the dinosaurs, Tyrannosaurus rex, didn't just eat other dinosaurs but also each other. Paleontologists from the United States and Canada have found bite marks on the ...

Thousands of dinosaur footprints uncovered in China

Feb 07, 2010

Archaeologists in China have uncovered more than 3,000 dinosaur footprints, state media reported, in an area said to be the world's largest grouping of fossilised bones belonging to the ancient animals.

T.rex's oldest ancestor identified

Nov 04, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Remains of the oldest-known relative of T.rex have been identified, more than 100 years after being pulled out of a Gloucestershire reservoir, according to research published in the Zoological Jo ...

Recommended for you

King Richard III died painfully on battlefield

4 hours ago

England's King Richard III might well have lost his kingdom for a horse. The reviled king suffered nearly a dozen injuries on the battlefield, but the fatal blows were probably only sustained after he had to abandon his horse, ...

'Hidden Treasure of Rome' project unveiled

9 hours ago

For more than a century, hundreds of thousands of historical artifacts dating back to before the founding of Rome have been stored in crates in the Capitoline Museums of Rome, where they have remained mostly untouched. Now, ...

NOAA team reveals forgotten ghost ships off Golden Gate

12 hours ago

A team of NOAA researchers today confirmed the discovery just outside San Francisco's Golden Gate strait of the 1910 shipwreck SS Selja and an unidentified early steam tugboat wreck tagged the "mystery wreck." ...

Long lost Roman fort discovered in Gernsheim

13 hours ago

In the course of an educational dig in Gernsheim in the Hessian Ried, archaeologists from Frankfurt University have discovered a long lost Roman fort: A troop unit made up out of approximately 500 soldiers ...

User comments : 0