A newly discovered dinosaur species is that of a tyrannosaurus rex (T. rex) relative that’s quite diminutive compared to its famous cousin. The “harbinger of doom” stood at just about 3 or 4 feet tall.
'Harbinger Of Doom'
Before the T. rex ruled what is now North America, its relatives evidently weren’t as royal. Scientists discovered the fossilized remains of a T. rex relative that’s rather gangly, tiny, and adapted to hunt in the shadows of larger carnivores at the top of the food chain. Named Moros intrepidus, meaning “harbinger of doom,” the tyrannosaur stood at about 3 to 4 feet tall, weighed about 170 pounds, and had skinny foot bones. That said, the creature was an excellent predator as well.
“Moros was lightweight and exceptionally fast. These adaptations, together with advanced sensory capabilities, are the mark of a formidable predator. It could easily have run down prey, while avoiding confrontation with the top predators of the day,” said Lindsay Zanno, lead author of the paper describing the species.
T. Rex Ancestor
Apart from being an interesting tyrannosaur find because of its size, the discovery of the Moros also sheds light into how the tyrannosaurs became the top predators in North America. While it is still a mystery how the tyrannosaurs got so big, it’s possible that the tyrannosaurs filled in the role of the apex predators when the allosaurs began to fade. This could mean that the predators went from medium-sized to massive in just a span of 15 million years.
Furthermore, researchers also found that the closest relative of the Moros were from Asia, suggesting that just like the triceratops, they might have crossed a land bridge from Asia to North America.
The Moros is the oldest Cretaceous tyrannosaur to be discovered in the region at 96 million years old. It is also one of the smallest dinosaur of its kind.
The research is published in Communications Biology.