Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

FSU biologist says new dinosaur is oldest cousin of Tyrannosaurus rex

10.02.2006


Tyrannosaurus rex, meet your newest –– oldest –– cousin.



Florida State University paleobiologist Gregory M. Erickson sliced up some ancient dinosaur bones uncovered in China to help an international team of scientists identify a new genus and species. Despite striking skeletal differences and only subtle similarities, the FSU researcher determined that the two remarkably intact specimens were cousins of North America’s hulking Tyrannosaurus rex.

Make that distant cousins –– the newfound, relatively diminutive 10-foot-long tyrannosauroids pre-dated the T. rex branch of their family tree by about 100 million years. That makes them the oldest known as well as the most primitive tyrannosauroid fossils ever found.


The discovery of the oldest tyrannosaurs is described in the journal Nature on Feb. 9. Erickson co-authored the paper with seven scientists from China, the United States and Canada.

Until now, tyrannosaurs such as T. rex were best known from the end of the Cretaceous period, about 65-70 million years ago. The new, nearly complete skeletons from China offer a snapshot of the earliest tyrannosauroid just after they morphed into a different branch of the family tree –– 95 million years before cousin T. rex ruled the roost.

Researchers say the identification of the oldest basal (primitive) tyrannosauroid yet will shed light on the early evolution and geographical distribution of its ancestors –– small therapod dinosaurs known as coelurosaurs that were the closest relatives of modern-day birds.

"It’s not only the oldest tyrannosaur but also the sexiest," Erickson said, what with its flashy crest atop its small head –– an extravagant ornament likely used only for attraction and display purposes and the first of its kind seen in the tyrannosaur’s predatory family. The creature has been named "Guanlong wucaii" and translated loosely from Chinese, that’s "crowned dragon five colors."

An internationally known expert on the development and evolution of the vertebrate musculoskeletal system, Erickson helped confirm the tyrannosauroid lineage of the two specimens by noting, among other features, the characteristic long hip, the U-shaped teeth and the fused nasal bridge. While they weren’t exactly T. rex look-alikes, they were definitely family.

But there were marked differences. Among them, in addition to its distinctive cranial crest, Guanlong was roughly 100 million years older and a fourth the size of its big, bad T. rex cousin. It had three fingers; T. rex had two. Its arms were longer and more delicate, its head smaller and its agility superior to the car-crushing, restroom-ripping monster of "Jurassic Park" movie fame.

While the sex of the two T. rex cousins was impossible to ascertain, Erickson determined their respective ages by examining the growth rings on the inside of their bones. Those of the larger animal had seven closely spaced rings –– revealing rapid growth to young adulthood –– followed by six widely spaced rings corresponding with slower growth to full maturity by the end of its relatively long 13-year life. Its cranial crest would have reached its full size by then, thus providing an accurate model for scientists. The bones of the smaller specimen had only six closely spaced rings and no widely spaced ones, indicating that it was a nearly grown juvenile who died prematurely, not simply a smaller, adult female.

"I study these animals as living organisms, not just as specimens on an evolutionary tree," Erickson said. "For me, it’s about how they lived, not just how they died."

Guanlong lived in China –– its remains were found in the Junggar Basin of Xinjiang, in the western reaches of the Gobi Desert. Erickson contends that this discovery is merely the tip of the iceberg in that area. "China has been a hot spot for dinosaur fossils since the 1990s," he said.

Widely publicized research by Erickson –– who also is known as an expert in dinosaur and crocodilian dentition, or bite force –– has helped to generate interest in the sciences among young children, typically fascinated by animals such as dinosaurs and crocodiles. He is an assistant professor of anatomy and vertebrate paleobiology at FSU; curator of the Florida State University Museum; and a research associate at both The American Museum of Natural History in New York City and The Field Museum in Chicago. Erickson also is the animal expert on the National Geographic Channel series "Hunter and Hunted."

Greg Erickson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.bio.fsu.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Asian dust providing key nutrients for California's giant sequoias
28.03.2017 | University of California - Riverside

nachricht Chlamydia: How bacteria take over control
28.03.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers create artificial materials atom-by-atom

28.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers show p300 protein may suppress leukemia in MDS patients

28.03.2017 | Health and Medicine

Asian dust providing key nutrients for California's giant sequoias

28.03.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>