Researchers have recently discovered a new type of Tyrannosaur, one that was much smaller and graceful than its fearsome cousin Rex, while still being a vicious predator. The lizard sported some unusual features for a dinosaur, including a very long snout and a horn on its head. The find shed some light on T. Rex’s distant relatives. There are many dinosaurs in the species Tyrannosaurs, and researchers were aware that they had only identified a few of them. The new fossil was found in impeccable shape.
The new Tyrannosaur, named Alioramus altai, was found during an American Museum of Natural History 2001 expedition to the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. The investigation was led by the Museum’s Chair of the Division of Paleontology, Mark Norell. More details of the new species can be found in the October 5 issue of the respected journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
“This spectacular fossil tells us that there is a lot more anatomical and ecological variety in tyrannosaurs than we previously thought. Not all tyrannosaurs were megapredators adapted for stalking and dismembering large prey. Some tyrannosaurs were small and slender. Compared to Tyrannosaurus, this new animal is like a ballerina,” AMNH-affiliated graduate student Stephen Brusatte, who has been part of the team that has helped describe the fossil, explains. A. altai is introduced to the public a short time after another new addition to the species, the earlier Raptorex kriegsteini.
The skull of the beast was the most impressive sight to behold, the investigators reveal. It featured long, slender teeth, fairly weak muscular attachments, and about eight horns that were most likely about five inches in length each. Such a feature has never before been discovered in other species of Tyrannosaurs. “This fossil reveals an entirely new body type among tyrannosaurs, a group we thought we understood pretty well. The different body forms probably allowed Alioramus and Tarbosaurus to coexist,” Norell explains.
Florida State University expert Gregory Erickson, one of the paper’s co-authors, reveals that the bone analysis indicates the dinosaur died at about nine years of age, when it had reached only 85 percent of its adult body size.