New Research Suggests Previously Thought T-Rex Cousins May Have Been Teenage T-Rexes

Previously, a lot of digging (and a whole lot of analyzing and researching) turned up dinosaur fossils that are thought to be the pygmy kin of the iconic and well-known dinosaur Tyrannosaurus rex (small T-rex cousins), coming up very short in size as opposed to their gigantic lizard relative. However, new research of the fossils suggests that these pygmy dinosaurs aren’t just kin of the T-rex but actual T-rex themselves, only during their juvenile years.

This, per experts, bolsters the previous theory that teenage T-rex dinosaurs had different eating behaviors than their elders and may have acted differently as well.

Teenage T-Rex

More than a century has passed now since the first time that paleontologists discovered the T-rex, estimating that the largest individuals of the well-known and well-documented dinosaur species are around more than 12 meters from snout to the top of its massive tail. Furthermore, they were also estimated to weigh more than 8,000 kilograms, had teeth the size of bananas and had a lifespan of 30 years or longer.

The 1940s then came, and along with it, the discovery of a fossilized skull that’s similar to that of a T-rex’s, although significantly smaller. A similar and more complete skeleton was then dug up in the 2000s, after which paleontologists dubbed the dinosaur Nanotyrannus, and is supposedly a cousin of the larger T-rex.

However, debate has been thrown around whether the bones were actually a T-rex relative or actual T-rex themselves. And so, Holly Woodward, a paleohistologist at the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences in Tulsa, made some experiments along with her colleagues to solve the mystery. From here, they were able to come up with a new theory: the animal that these bones belonged to wasn’t an adult and could be a juvenile from its species, which is now theorized to be the actual T-rex as well.

“It’s clear that these creatures were not adults. They were still growing and still changing,” Thomas Holtz Jr., a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Maryland in College Park, who wasn’t involved in the study, said. 

However, scientists are still unable to come to a consensus.

Dinosaur Skeleton A Camptosaurus (L) and an Allosaurus skeletons are displayed on November 13, 2018 at the Artcurial auction house in Paris. Volcanoes and an asteroid are most likely the reasons for dinosaur extinction. STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/Getty Images