Friday, 18 September 2009

Mini rex

Quite a few articles around today about a description of a very small tyrannosaurid from around 35 million years before the larger-sized tyrannosaurid body shape started to appear.

Raptorex kriegsteini has lots of the characteristics of its famous relative, T. rex, and importantly shows that the distinctive features such as the skull shape and small forelimbs were in place well before they got all super-sized. These dinos were only 8 feet long, and weighed about the same as my friend Keith. Less than me.

The surprising thing about the discovery is just how little the body plan changed as it was scaled up. There were a few tyrannosaurs around North America and Asia throughout the later Cretaceous, and they weren't all as enormous as T.rex - a good example being Nanotyrannus lancensis, which deserves a post of its own - but the typical features are present in all.


Christopher Walker said...

they might have been small but they were surely still fairly hardcore kick-ass beasties?

what was the toughest dinosaur (pound for pound)?

Matt Dale said...

Difficult. Pound for pound it may have to be a dromeosaur. They were very widespread, were generally built for speed and had an impressive range of weaponry. Many had big scary claws for ripping your guts out. The biggest and nastiest of these was probably Utahraptor, but it was also fairly heavy. So I'd maybe go for a lighter one, like Deinonychus or Velociraptor.