Science/Tech

Small Dino In New Mexico Officially Named T. Rex's Cousin

Arguably the most well-known dinosaur, the Tyrannosaurus rex or T. rex is a giant predator that used to hunt smaller dinosaurs with its large strong hind legs and powerful jaw filled with sharp teeth. It’s so famous that just thinking of the word “dinosaur” already conjures up a silhouette of the ancient beast.

And so when a group of paleontologists unearthed two incomplete dinosaur skeletons that resembled the ancient predator some 20 years ago in New Mexico, they weren’t quite sure where to fit these fossils in the dinosaur map. Why? Well, for the simple reason that unlike the T. rex’s large size, these faux-Tyrannosaurus rex fossils were way, way smaller.

Per the paleontologists, the creature, which lived some 92 million years ago, bore a huge resemblance to the T. rex, which is known to have lived some 80 to 66 million years ago. However, the fossils show that they were so tiny and at hip height was just about a meter tall.

The initial discovery was around 20 years ago. Around that time, the T. rex’s known family tree was still relatively small. Furthermore, fossils were still quite limited that there’s not much small predator-type fossils that the paleontologists can compare with. But it is still a fascinating find, especially for the paleontologists.

“There was enough of a skeleton to be super intriguing, but not enough to nail it down,” said Sterling Nesbitt, who was one of the paleontologists who discovered the fossils.

And so the dino would stay unclassified until 20 years later, when researchers finally studied the bones and published the findings about it in Nature Ecology and Evolution early this week.

Per the research, the newly identified dinosaur, which is now called the Suskityrannus hazelae, is in fact a close cousin of the T. rex. It is said to have lived long before the giant beast roamed the Earth.

Just like the T. rex, the small dinosaur also had three bones in its feet, as well as a skull that’s built to make massive, strong bites. This suggests that this type of small predators paved the way for giants like the T. rex to grow massive and rule on top of the food chain.

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