Tyrannosaurus rex 'missing link' revealed
March 15, 2016 | 3 comments
What were the ancestors of T. rex actually like ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0 Daniel Schwen
Paleontologists have identified a new species of dinosaur from a missing period in T. rex evolution.
Surprisingly very little fossil evidence has ever been found from the Mid Cretaceous - a period of time spanning over 20 million years and about which we know comparatively little about.
One mystery from this long-lost time is how Tyrannosaurus rex, the world's best known predatory dinosaur, evolved from a small bipedal hunter in to a huge, meat-eating behemoth.
Now however scientists may have finally found the answer in the form of a previously unknown species of dinosaur thought to be a distant evolutionary ancestor of T. rex.
Known as Timurlengia euotica
, this horse-sized meat-eater, which was unearthed at an excavation site in Uzbekistan, has given scientists a unique opportunity to study the transition between the smaller and larger tyrannosaur species over the course of several million years.
Of particular note was the discovery that the creature's brain was highly developed - much like Tyrannosaurus rex - suggesting that the large size and bulk must have come later.
The researchers concluded their study by writing:"Timurlengia remains a single data point from a still murky interval in dinosaur history, and future discoveries from this gap will undoubtedly lead to a better understanding of how tyrannosauroids rose from marginal creatures into some of the largest terrestrial predators in Earth history."
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