New dinosaur discovery: T. mcraeensis, a relative of the famous T-Rex

Reconstruction of Tyrannosaurus mcraeensis. Credit: Sergei Krasinski.

In the world of dinosaurs, there’s exciting news!

Scientists have found a new species that might have been the closest relative to the famous Tyrannosaurus rex, often called T-Rex.

This discovery adds a thrilling chapter to our understanding of these ancient creatures.

The new dinosaur, named Tyrannosaurus mcraeensis, was identified by a team led by Sebastian Dalman.

They studied a fossilized part of a skull found in the Hall Lake Formation in New Mexico, USA. This area is rich in dinosaur history and has revealed many secrets from the past.

For a long time, people thought this skull belonged to the T-Rex, mainly because of its size. The T-Rex, as many know, was a giant among dinosaurs, reaching up to 12 meters in length.

But after a closer look, the scientists realized that this skull had small but significant differences compared to the T-Rex. These differences were in the shape and connections of the skull bones.

This led to an exciting conclusion: the skull was from a new species! By examining the place where the skull was found and comparing it with the age of nearby rocks and other dinosaur fossils, the scientists estimated that T. mcraeensis lived around 71 to 73 million years ago.

This means it roamed the Earth about five to seven million years before the T-Rex.

What’s even more fascinating is the relationship between T. mcraeensis and T-Rex. Their studies suggest that T. mcraeensis might have been a sister species to the T-Rex. This makes it the closest known relative to the iconic dinosaur.

The discovery also sheds light on where the Tyrannosaurus family, known as Tyrannosaurini, might have come from.

The researchers think this group started in southern Laramidia, an ancient island continent that stretched from what’s now Alaska to Mexico. This place existed around 100 to 66 million years ago.

Something else intriguing came up in their study. Around 72 million years ago, there was a trend of dinosaurs becoming giants in southern Laramidia. This included not just the tyrannosaurs but also other species like ceratopsians (horned dinosaurs), hadrosaurs (duck-billed dinosaurs), and titanosaurs (long-necked giants). T. mcraeensis was part of this trend.

The team thinks that the growth in size of the Tyrannosaurini might have been influenced by their prey.

In southern Laramidia, herbivorous dinosaurs, which the tyrannosaurs would have hunted, were also becoming larger. So, it was like a race of giants!

This discovery opens up new questions and possibilities about the life of dinosaurs. It helps us understand how they evolved, where they came from, and even why they became so big.

Each new find like this brings us closer to unraveling the mysteries of these magnificent creatures that once ruled the Earth.