Paleontologists have found a new tyrannosaur fossil in Utah, which has the most intact skeleton discovered until now. The fossil is around 76 million years old and reportedly belongs to Teratophoneus curriei, a species that flourished during the Late Cretaceous Period.
"With at least 75 percent of its bones preserved, this is the most complete tyrannosaur skeleton ever found in the southwestern U.S.," said Randall Irmis, paleontology curator at Utah's Natural History Museum. "We are eager to get a detailed look at this fossil to know more about the southern tyrannosaur's evolution, biology, anatomy," he added.
A Nearly-Complete Teratophoneus Curriei Fossil
The fossil, which includes a skull that is nearly complete, was discovered on a remote field site in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Researchers believe that the tyrannosaur fossil is that of a teen individual, which was around 12 to 15 years old at the time of its death. The 17 to 20 feet-long specimen has a comparatively short head which is not like the general long-snouted appearance of the tyrannosaurs discovered in the northern part of United States.
The discovery of the fossil and the subsequent excavation of the site took a really elongated period of work in total. The new fossil find is quite important because not only will it help determine whether the animal belongs to the Teratophoneus species or a new species but also how it lived, according to Irmis.
Incidentally, the Teratophoneus curriei is said to have been one of the most ferocious tyrannosaurs that roamed about in western North America during the Late Cretaceous Period, about 66-90 million years ago.
Dinosaur Discoveries At Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Numerous tyrannosaur fossils have been discovered in the northern Great Plain regions of United States and Canada over the last hundred years. However, the discovery of the nearly-intact skeleton in Utah has highlighted that the species followed a different path in southern United States as compared to their northern counterparts.
In the past two decades, researchers have excavated over twelve new species of dinosaurs in GSENM - many of which are still to get categorized after a formal scientific description.
Apart from dinosaurs, the area is also a treasure trove of other diverse fossil discoveries that gives one of the most detailed looks into a Mesozoic ecosystem. Furthermore, all the dinosaur species that have been discovered in the area are unique to it and have not been discovered anywhere else on the planet to date.