New tyrannosaur discovered in Utah

2013-11-07 14:10
A realistic model derived from actual skull of a new species of tyrannosaur unearthed in southern Utah is revealed at the Utah Museum of Natural History. (File, AP)

A realistic model derived from actual skull of a new species of tyrannosaur unearthed in southern Utah is revealed at the Utah Museum of Natural History. (File, AP)

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Salt Lake City - A new dinosaur has been discovered in southern Utah that proves giant tyrant dinosaurs like the Tyrannosaurus rex were around 10 million years earlier than previously believed.

The fossils were unveiled on Wednesday at the Natural History Museum of Utah.

Paleontologists believe the dinosaur lived up to 95 million years ago in the late Cretaceous Period on a landmass in the flooded central region of North America.

They've named the dinosaur, Lythronax argestes. The first part of the name means "king of gore," and the second part is derived from the poet Homer's southwest wind.

University of Maryland paleontologist Thomas Holtz, Jr says this new dinosaur is the equivalent of a great uncle of the Tyrannosaurus rex.

The meat-eating Lythronax argestes, had wide-set eyes that helped it track prey and a load of teeth packed into a more slender snout than the T. rex's, researchers said in the journal PLoS ONE.

The Lythronax was among the lighter, more compactly built tyrannosaurids, and may have been about half as heavy as the largest T. rex.


The beast weighed about 2.5 tons and was 8m long, said the research team led by Mark Loewen, adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Utah.

Its bones - including parts of the skull, hips, leg and tail - were found in the Wahweap Formation within the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in south-central Utah.

"The width of the back of the skull of Lythronax allowed it to see with an overlapping field of view-giving it the binocular vision- very useful for a predator and a condition we associate with T. rex," said Loewen.

It is also older - T. rex roamed the Earth about 10-12 million years later, researchers said.

Tyrannosaurids ran upright on two legs and had short arms, and were renowned for attacking other dinosaurs as well as scavenging the carcasses of dead animals for food.

Researchers said they likely originated in northern Laramidia, then a swampy and humid island which is now western North America.

Several species likely moved south over time, while others made their way toward Asia 70-75 million years ago.

Read more on:    us  |  palaeontology
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