With a name like the “King of Gore,” you can imagine just how menacing the newest species of dinosaur might have been.
Researchers revealed in Utah on Wednesday the oldest tyrannosaur ever discovered, an animal that roamed North America some 10 million years earlier than previously believed.
Called Lythronax Argestes, it’s an ancestor of the famed Tyrannosaurus Rex and its fossils were found at Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah four years ago. The researchers spent the interim travelling the world to determine if they had found an existing dinosaur, or one newly unearthed.
“Lythronax is a wonderful example of just how much more we have to learn about with the world of dinosaurs,” co-author Philip Currie said on the National History Museum of Utah website. “Many more exciting fossils await discovery in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.”
Research about the newly discovered dinosaur is now published in the scientific journal PLoS ONE, and fossils and drawings appear at the Natural History Museum of Utah in Salt Lake City.
Lythronax translates as “king of gore,” while Argestes refers to its location in the American Southwest.
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Paleontologists had thought this type of wide-skulled tyrant only appeared 70 million years ago, whereas Lythronax shows it had evolved at least 10 million years earlier.
Its head shape and eyes make it unique, said Mark Loewen, the study’s lead author.
“The width of the back of the skull of Lythronax allowed it to see with an overlapping field of view — giving it the binocular vision — very useful for a predator and a condition we associate with T. rex,” Loewen said online.
Stretching about 25 feet in length and standing about eight feet tall at the hip, it was slightly smaller than a typical T. rex.
It was an alpha predator, however, in what was then a marshy area of North America.
“This shows that these big, banana-tooth bruisers go back to the very first days of the giant tyrant dinosaurs,” Thomas Holtz Jr., a University of Maryland paleontologist, told the Associated Press. “This one is the first example of these kinds of dinosaurs being the ruler of the land.”
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