Tyrannosarus Got Smart Before They Got Big, Paleontologists Say

Das Tyrannosaurus-Exemplar „Stan“ im Manchester Museum. Bild: wikimedia.org/CC BY-SA 3.0

With its massive frame, bone-crunching jaws, and adorably diminutive forearms, Tyrannosaurus rex is the most iconic of all dinosaurs. This spectacular late Cretaceous predator measured around 13 meters long from head to tail, and weighed seven tons, making it one of the largest meat-eaters ever to roam the Earth.

By Becky Ferreira|MOTHERBOARD

But tyrannosaurs like T. rex were not always supersized apex hunters, as evidenced by the newly-discovered species Timurlengia euotica, which lived 90 million years ago in what is now Uzbekistan’s Kyzylkum Desert. The animal’s fossilized remains, described in a study published today in the Proceedings of the Academy of Sciences, reveal that smaller hunters like Timurlengia pioneered many of the adaptations that made later tyrannosaur incarnations so successful.

“The new species—Timurlengia—is still relatively small, only about the size of a horse, but it has the advanced brain and senses of the colossal latest Cretaceous apex predators,” Steve Brusatte, a paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh and lead author of the new study, told me via email.

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