Sunday, December 27, 2009

Diminutive T. Rex May Have Lived 35 Million Years Earlier

(HealthDay News) -- Based on examination of a new fossil, scientists believe the gargantuan Tyrannosaurus rex may have started as a similar-looking dinosaur that was one 100th of the size.

The fossil of a 9-foot Raptorex, found in northeastern China, had the oversized head, tiny arms, lanky feet and enlarged olfactory bulbs common in the T. rex, but appeared to be 35 million years older than its well-known relative. The T. rex is thought to have roamed Asia and North America between 90 million and 65 million years ago before becoming extinct.

"There's no other example that I can think of where an animal has been so finely designed at about 100th the size that it would eventually become," University of Chicago paleontologist Paul Sereno said in a news release issued by the university. Sereno and five others wrote about the fossil Sept. 17 in Science Express, an online version of the journal Science.

The "punk-size" fossil, as Sereno described it, is believed to have been illegally taken from Inner Mongolia. It was brought to the research team's attention after a private fossil collector bought the nearly completed skeleton from a vendor. Read more...

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