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T.rex's Oldest Ancestor is British!

  • 04-11-2009 4:35pm
    Registered Users Posts: 30,746 ✭✭✭✭

    Surprising research in the London Museum of Natural History on the dinosaur Proceratosaurus bradlyi has revealed it to be the ancestor of the famous Tyrannosaurus rex, as opposed to Ceratosaurus as it's name would suggest.
    While the animal was first discovered in 1910, it's place in theropod (the family of dinosaurs containing the two legged meat eaters) evolution has been something of a mystery. It was fist identified as being a species of Megalosaurus, as many were back in the day (the name Megalosaurus is often referred to as a 'waste basket' name because of this).
    In 1926 it's name was officially recognised as being different to Megalosaurus and given the name Proceratosaurus bradleyi, meaning 'before Ceratosaurus ('horned lizard')', because it was thought to be the ancestor of Ceratosaurus based on the similar horn like crest it had on it's snout.
    Now, the latest research suggests that Proceratosaurus was in fact a primitive coelurosaur (the family that contains tyrannosaurs and 'raptors' among others).
    It lived around 165 million years ago in the Mid Jurassic (called the Bathonian), some 100 million years before T.rex and was between 3 and 4 metres long (as opposed to T.rex, which was about 13).

    More here.


    Fun fact: Proceratosaurus' name appears on the embryo storage unit and on the map in the tour car in the first Jurassic Park films. It does not, however, appear in person in any of the films.


  • Registered Users Posts: 30,746 ✭✭✭✭Galvasean

    There have been quite a few new discoveries re: tyrannosaur evolution lately so I thought I'd list them here for easy access.

    Alioramus altai a small and speedy tyrannosaur from late Cretaceous Asia.

    Raptorex kriegsteini, which lived in early Cretaceous China.

    Well okay, only two that I could find easily. :o
    I was going to include the Dilong paradoxus article, but that is no longer considered a tyrannosaur so might confuse things. Likewise, that 'Polish ancestor of T.rex' as it turns out probably had little, if anything to do with tyrannosaur evolution (damn media hype!).

  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 10,076 Mod ✭✭✭✭marco_polo

    A rare non subscription Sci Am article on the new discoveries.

    This past fall paleontologists unveiled two tyrannosaurs new to science that are shaking up long-standing ideas about everyone’s favorite mega-predator. The finds are forcing researchers to reevaluate the origin of the tyrannosaur body plan and reconsider what they thought they knew about the diversity of this well-studied group. “Our view of tyrannosaur evolution has changed dramatically,” says doctoral student Stephen L. Brusatte of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

    Over the past decade researchers have established that behemoth tyrannosaurs such as T. rex evolved from smaller ancestors. And they thought that the signature features of T. rex—including a huge skull built for tearing into flesh and bone, puny arms, and running legs and feet—were inextricably linked to the evolution of large body size. But in the October 16 Science, Paul C. Sereno of the University of Chicago and his colleagues, including Brusatte, described a new tyrannosaur, Raptorex kriegsteini, that upends this idea.

  • Registered Users Posts: 30,746 ✭✭✭✭Galvasean

    Ah, Steve Brusatte, author of that obsceneley large Dinosaur book. It's nice to hear about authors' current research in addition to reading about it in books later.