AsianScientist (Jun. 26, 2019) – Scientist in Thailand and Germany have identified two cousins of the Tyrannosaurus rex. They published their findings in the journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica.
The T. rex was a fearsome predator of the Cretaceous period and has been popularized in the mainstream media in movies such as Jurassic Park. Surprisingly little is known about the family tree of the T. rex.
In this study, researchers at the Sirindhorn Museum in Thailand and the University of Bonn, Germany, analyzed fossilized bones from an excavation conducted three decades ago, and found that they belonged to distant relatives of the T. rex.
Like the T. rex, both newly discovered dinosaurs ran on their hind legs. Unlike the T. rex, however, the two new species had strong arms and long claws, as well as more delicate heads that ended in long snouts.
“We were able to assign [one set of] bones to a novel megaraptor, which we baptized Phuwiangvenator yaemniyomi,” explained Mr. Adun Samathi, graduate student at the University of Bonn. Megaraptors, which include the T. rex, have so far been discovered mainly in South America and Australia.
The name P. yaemniyomi is reminiscent of the location in which the fossil was found—the Phuwiang district—and is a tribute to Professor Sudham Yaemniyom of Chulalongkorn University, Thailand, who discovered the first Thai dinosaur fossil.
Phuwiangvenator was probably a fast runner. With a length of about six meters, it was considerably smaller than the T. rex, which measured about twelve meters.
“Various characteristics of Phuwiangvenator indicate that it is an early representative of megaraptors. We take this as an indication that the megaraptors originated in Southeast Asia and then spread to other regions,” Samathi explained.
Samathi was also involved in the identification of another smaller dinosaur, named Vayuraptor nongbualamphuenisis, which is also related to the Phuwiangvenator and the T. rex.
“Perhaps the situation can be compared with that of African big cats,” said Samathi. “If Phuwiangvenator were a lion, Vayuraptor would be a cheetah.”
Source: University of Bonn; Photo: Adun Samathi/University of Bonn.
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