Huge New Dinosaur Was Cousin of T. rex


Paleontologists have just announced the discovery of Zhuchengtyrannus magnus, a.k.a. “Tyrant from Zhucheng,” which was not only one of the world’s largest carnivorous dinosaurs, but it also was a cousin of Tyrannosaurus rex.

Check out its estimated body size:

Length- 36 feet

Height- 13 feet

Weight- Well over 13,000 pounds

This “Tyrant” dino was unearthed in China and is described in the latest issue of the journal Cretaceous Research. Its remains consist of a fossilized skull and jaw bones. In life, as you can see from the drawing, this meat lover sported a mouth full of very sharp teeth, the better to bite into its victims.

Zhuchengtyrannus magnus joins T. rex and the Asian Tarbosaurus as being members of a specialized group of enormous carnivores called tyrannosaurines. The tyrannosaurines existed in North America and eastern Asia during the Late Cretaceous Period, which lasted from about 99 to 65 million years ago.

In addition to their fondness for meat, the tyrannosaurines were characterised by small arms, two-fingered hands, and large powerful jaws that could have delivered a powerful bone-crushing bite. They were likely both predators and scavengers.

David Hone, lead author of the paper, was quoted in a press release as saying, “Zhuchengtyrannus can be distinguished from other tyrannosaurines by a combination of unique features in the skull not seen in any other theropod.”

“With only some skull and jaw bones to work with, it is difficult to precisely gauge the overall size of this animal. But the bones we have are just a few centimetres smaller than the equivalent ones in the largest T. rex specimen. So there is no doubt that Zhuchengtyrannus was a huge tyrannosaurine,” added Hone, a researcher at the University College Dublin School of Biology and Environmental Science.

“We named the new genus Zhuchengtyrannus magnus – which means the ‘Tyrant from Zhucheng’ – because the bones were found in the city of Zhucheng, in eastern China’s Shandong Province,” he continued.

If you follow dinosaur research, the name of one of Hone’s colleagues on this project will be familiar to you: Xu Xing of the Beijing Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in China. In addition to this dinosaur, more than 30 other dinosaurs have been named by Xu, making him the world leader in describing new dinosaur species. At Discovery News, we’ve had the pleasure of working with Xu many times.

He’s struck dino gold with a few sites in particular. One is a quarry in Shandong Province, eastern China, where the remains of this dinosaur were found. (A bunch of duck-billed dinosaurs were also discovered at this location.)

China was clearly home to an incredible number of dinosaurs, but a reason why so many important discoveries are made there (aside from skilled paleontologists like Xu and Hone) is because of certain geological features that make such finds easier today. In this case, the dinosaur bones washed into a large flood plain, along with other prehistoric animal remains, and remained there over the millennia.

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