New dino in same league as T rex
Move over Tyrannosaurus rex, there's a new flesh-ripping theropod on the scene that scientists say was probably as big and fearsome as the king of dinosaurs.world Updated: Apr 01, 2011 12:54 IST
Move over Tyrannosaurus rex, there's a new flesh-ripping theropod on the scene that scientists say was probably as big and fearsome as the king of dinosaurs.
The previously unknown predator, unveiled on Friday in the journal Cretaceous Research, measured 11 metres (36 feet) from head to tail, stood four metres (13 feet) tall, and weighed in at six tonnes.
Dubbed Zhuchengtyrannus magnus, or "tyrant from Zhucheng," after the spot in China's Shandong Province where it was discovered, the T rex-like carnivore is among the largest in its family ever found.
"It can be distinguished from other tyrannosourines by a combination of unique features in the skull not seen in any other theropods," said David Hone, a professor at University College Dublin and lead author of the study.
The tyrannosaurines lorded over North America and eastern Asia during the late Cretaceous Period, which lasted from about 99 to 65 million years ago.
The group, which included T rex, was formidable hunters with small arms, tiny two-fingered hands, and monstrous jaws designed to dispatch prey with deadly, bone-crushing bites.
Palaeontologists only had a partial jaw bone and part of the skull to work with, so it was difficult to gauge the creatures exact size.
"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 huge," Hone said.
The quarry where the new "tyrant" was found, along with nearby sites, boasts one of the highest concentrations of dinosaur remains anywhere in the world.
Scientists speculate that the area is rich in fossils because it was a flood plain.