A new fossil tyrannosaur was discovered in Utah – and it is very small compared to its more famous relative T. rex.
Meet the Moros intrepidus, a small tyrannosaur who lives in Emery County of Utah during the Cretaceous period. At 96 million years old, it is the oldest species of Cretaceous tyrannosaur discovered in North America. The search can weaken a 70-million-year space tyrant dinosaur record.
And with the small, consider the size of a mule deer. Moros are 3 or 4 feet tall in the hip. The specified specimen is estimated to be over seven years old and almost completely grown. Its name means "harbinger of doom."
While medium-sized primitive tyrannosaurs were found in North America dating from the Jurassic period (about 150 million years ago), the iconic Tyrannosaurus rex appeared in the Cretaceous period (around 81 million years old ago). Lindsay Zanno, paleontologist at North Carolina State University and a lead author of a research-based paper, explains that prior to the discovery of the Moros, paleontologists did not know how the dynasty got the dinosaur busted from a little hunter at the big top predator familiar with – the fossil record is a blank slate.
"When and how fast the tyrannosaurs that went to wallflower at the prom king were annoying paleontologists for a long time," Zanno said in a news release. "The only way to attack this problem is to get out of there and find more data on these rare animals."
Zanno and his team spent a decade hunting for dinosaur bones inside the rocks from the Late Cretaceous period. Their search finally made teeth and one limb from the Moros. Zanno described the Moros as light and fast.
"These adaptations, along with advanced sensory capabilities, are a sign of a heavy predator," says Zanno. "It's easy to run with the victim, while avoiding the confrontation of the top jealous people today."
The discovery of the Moros leads the paleontologists to believe that T. rex took advantage of warming temperatures and rising sea level at the end of the Cretaceous period.
Zanno said, "We know now that it took them less than 15 million years to rise in power."