News

New dinosaur found in Utah

New dinosaur found in Utah

T. REX RELATIVE: This photo released by the Natural History Museum of Utah shows the fossilized skeleton of a newly-discovered dinosaur, Lythronax argestes, which was found in southern Utah, on the display at the museum in Salt Lake City. The specimen is 24 feet long and 8 feet high. Photo: Associated Press/Natural History Museum of Utah, Mark Loewen

By Laila Kearney

(Reuters) – Scientists in Utah say they have discovered Tyrannosaurus rex’s “great-uncle,” a massive predator with a thick skull and large teeth dubbed the “king of gore.”

Bones of the 24-foot (7.3-meter) -long dinosaur, slightly smaller than T. rex and older by about 10 million years, were unveiled at the Natural History Museum of Utah in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, and an announcement of the species discovery was published in the scientific journal Plos One.

Scientists hope the find will help them better understand the ecosystem where the predator roamed.

Discovered by workers for the Federal Bureau of Land Management in eastern Utah in 2009, scientists named the animal Lythronax argestes, or “king of gore,” for its large teeth and apparent dominance as a predator.

“Discovering the Lythronax pushes back the evolution of the group that gives rise to T. rex, which is something we didn’t understand before,” said Mark Loewen, a geologist at the University of Utah, who led the dig for the new dinosaur. “Lythronax is like the great-uncle of T. rex.”

Paleontologists have thought that members of the group with characteristics like T. rex – large bodies, tiny arms, thick skulls and forward facing eyes – dated as far back as 70 million years, but the Lythronax shows signs of being at least 80 million years old.

Like its relative, the Lythronax is believed to have been the top predator of its time, roaming a stretch of land from Mexico to Alaska, including parts of Utah, during the Campanian stage of the Late Cretaceous period.

“The really cool thing is that this shows that the origins of the last known tyrannosaurs were in the southern part of North America as opposed to Asia or far North America,” as previously thought, said Andrew Farke, curator at the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology in Claremont, California.

Photos of the fossil remains of the newly discovered species were sent to Loewen and his team soon after they were discovered at the southern end of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, on the Utah-Colorado border.

The group spent the following two years retrieving, preserving and assembling the bones. Then, they traveled to locations where other bones from the tyrannosaur group were being studied, including China; Birmingham, Alabama; Washington, D.C.; and New York.

The Lythronax bones were set between layers of volcanic ash, which allowed scientists to determine the age of the dinosaur by studying the decomposition of the ash crystals that surrounded them.

“This sort of discovery is very interesting and exciting because it’s not just another animal from that era but a large predator from that era,” said paleontologist Peter Roopnarine, who studies the ecology of dinosaur periods for the California Academy of Sciences.

Roopnarine said being able to learn about the Lythronax will reveal more about the ecosystem at the time of its reign.

“This is going to change our understanding of this older ecosystem,” Roopnarine said.

Recent Headlines

in Sports

NFL upholds Brady’s four-game Deflategate suspension

Fresh
tombrady

The New England QB's punishment for his role in using under-inflated footballs during the AFC championship game last season was upheld by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

in Entertainment

Tom Cruise takes on Jimmy Fallon in latest lip-sync battle

Fresh
17-overlay12

The Weeknd, the Righteous Brothers, and Meat Loaf are among the artists to get reinterpreted in this battle between "The Tonight Show" host and the "Mission Impossible" star.

in Sports

Arizona Cardinals hire the NFL’s first female coach

Updated
14-overlay18

The Arizona Cardinals are being hailed as groundbreakers after hiring Dr. Jen Welter to be a coaching intern during training camp this year, working with inside linebackers.

in Sports, Viral Videos

WATCH: Ohio State football players ‘dummy’ prank

24-overlay17

This Nike uniform "mannequin" did a better job bringing quarterback Cardale Jones to the ground than any Oregon player.

in Viral Videos

Orangutan is a big fan of this mom-to-be

24-overlay16

This pregnant woman's trip to the zoo was a one-of-a-kind experience.