Science

Tyrannosaur with horns around its eyes roamed North America 76 million years ago

The Tyrannosaurus rex, the terrifying Tyrannosaurus Rex, is often called the “King of the Dinosaurs”.

What was it like before it? How did it become such a terrifying beast?

After discovering remains of a new, ‘frightful’ species of Tyrannosaurus with horns around its eyes, Palaeontologists believe they have the answer.

They believe that Daspletosaurus Wilsoni, identified by fossilized skull and skeletal fragments dating to 76.5 million years old, could have been an ancestor director of T.Rex. 

Meet the “frightful” one: Palaeontologists discovered a new type, a tyrannosaur with teeth around its eyes. Daspletosaurus wilsoni (shown here in an artist’s impression) was identified through fossilised skull and skeletal pieces that date back to around 76.5 millions years ago

Palaeontologists From The Badlands Dinosaur Museum In North Dakota Uncovered The Fossils, Which Include A Rib And Toe Bone, At The Judith River Formation, In Northeastern Montana, Between 2017 And 2021

The fossils were discovered by Palaeontologists at the Badlands Dinosaur Museum, North Dakota, and include a rib bone and toe bone. They were found in the Judith River Formation in northeastern Montana between 2017 and 2021.

The new species was discovered in Montana.

It has a mix of features found in more primitive tyrannosaurs from older rocks, such as a prominent set of horns around the eye, as well as features otherwise known from later members of this group (including T. rex), like a tall eye socket and expanded air-pockets in the skull.

Daspletosaurus, Greek for “frightful Lizard”, is the genus Daspletosaurus. 

The fossils were discovered at the Judith River Formation, northeastern Montana by Palaeontologists of the Badlands Dinosaur Museum (North Dakota) between 2017-2021.

Jack Wilson, a crew member, was the first to make the discovery. He spotted a flat piece of bone sticking out of the bottom of a tall cliff. 

This was the nostril’s middle portion. A little digging revealed that the premaxilla (the bone at the tip) was also present.

The New Species Was Found In Montana And Is Seen As A 'Half Way Point' Or 'Missing Link' Between Older And Younger Tyrannosaur Species

Montana’s new species is considered a ‘half-way point’ or a’missing link” between the older and younger tyrannosaur types.

The New Specimen Is One Of Four Tyrannosaur Skeletons Recently Collected By Badlands Dinosaur Museum. This Images Depicts The Four Disputing Ownership Of The Fresh Carcass Of A Centrosaurus

This new specimen is one among four recently collected skeletons of Tyrannosaurus tyrannosaurs by Badlands Dinosaur Museum. This image shows the disagreement over ownership of the fresh carcass a Centrosaurus.

The New Species Has A Mix Of Features Found In More Primitive Tyrannosaurs From Older Rocks, Such As A Prominent Set Of Horns Around The Eye, As Well As Features Otherwise Known From Later Members Of This Group, Like A Tall Eye Socket And Expanded Air-Pockets In The Skull

The new species shares many features with primitive tyrannosaurs found in older rocks, including a prominent set horns around the eyes. It also has features not seen in later members of the group like a tall eye socket, expanded air-pockets in skull, and a wide eye socket.

A Few Broken Vertebrae From Around The Site Showed That This Was A Large Tyrannosaur, But There Was 25Ft (8M) Of Rock On Top Of The Bones

A few fragments of broken vertebrae were found around the site, indicating that it was a large Tyrannosaurus. However, there was 25ft (8m), of rock on top.

The Researchers Think That D. Wilsoni Was The Descendant Of Daspletosaurus Torosus And The Predecessor Of Daspletosaurus Horneri, Which Likely Emerged Between 77 And 75 Million Years Ago

Researchers believe that D. wilsoni is the descendant of Daspletosaurus Torosus and the predecessor to Daspletosaurus horneri. This species likely evolved between 77 million and 75 millions years ago.

WHAT WAS T. REX?

Tyrannosaurus was a meat-eating, bird-like dinosaur.

It lived between 68–66 million years ago in what is now the western side of North America.

They can grow up to 40ft (12m) long and 12ft (4m) high.

Up to 50 T. Rex specimens have been discovered.

This monstrous beast had one of strongest bites in all of animal kingdom.

An Artist'S Impression Of T.rex

T. Rex, an artist’s impression

A few broken vertebrae found at the site indicated that this was an enormous tyrannosaur. However, 25ft (8m) of rocks was on top of the bones. 

Paleontologists used the jackhammer to reach the bone layer in 2020 and 2021. There they found a partial skull, and a skeleton. 

In recognition of how difficult it was to remove the surrounding rocks, the specimen was named “Sisyphus”. 

Sisyphus, a Greek mythological figure, was forced to roll a boulder up a mountain by Hades, the god death, after cheating death two times. 

According to the researchers, D. wilsoni could have been the descendant and predecessor of Daspletosaurus horneri. It is believed that Daspletosaurus horneri emerged between 77-75 million years ago. 

The anatomy of the new discovery, they say, supports their theory. T. rex is an ancestral descendant of the Daspletosaurus family. 

The Tyrannosauridae family includes all three species, as well as nine genera. Tyrannosaurus is one of them. 

‘Many researchers disagree as to whether tyrannosaurids represent a single lineage evolving in place, or several closely related species that do not descend from one another,’ said study co-authors Elías Warshaw and Denver Fowler. 

They also said that the lack of high-quality specimens has hindered this process.

However, the discovery of Daspletosaurus Wilsoni suggests that these three daspletosaurs arose in succession, much like a series of ladder-like steps in one evolutionary lineage.

The results suggest that the previous research was correct when it came to identifying multiple species of Daspletosaurus. This supports the descent from this group of T. Rex.

The journal revealed the discovery. Evolutionary Science and Paleontology

The Original Discovery Was Made In By Crew Member Jack Wilson, Who Spotted A Small Flat Piece Of Bone Projecting Out From The Bottom Of A Towering Cliff

Jack Wilson, a crewmember, discovered the original discovery when he saw a small piece of bone protruding from the base of a tall cliff.

This Spine From The Middle Of The Back Was One Of The First Bones Found At The Site In 2017

This spine, located in the middle of the back, was one of the first to be found at the site. 

The Skull Bones Are Very Finely Preserved. Here You Can See A Closeup Of The Pits And Grooves On The Side Of The Upper Jaw. These Would Have Housed Blood Vessels And Sensitive Nerves

The skull bones are extremely well preserved. The pits and grooves at the top of the upper jaw can be seen in this closeup. These would have been home to sensitive nerves and blood vessels.

Study Co-Author Dr Denver Fowler Is Pictured Posing With The Upper Jaw Found In The Quarry

Denver Fowler, study co-author, poses with the upper jaw that was found in the quarry

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