Paleontologists found fossils associated with a newly discovered type of Tyrannosaurus, which might fill a significant gap in T. rex’s evolutionary history.
Paleontologists have discovered the remains of a never seen tyrannosaur which was probably a direct descendant of dinosaur king Tyrannosaurus rex. The brand new species might help solve a longstanding controversy regarding the evolutionary heritage of T. rex.
The recently found species Daspletosaurus wilsoni features a distinctive arrangement of spiked hornlets close to its eyes. The Tyrannosaurus has been discovered from portions of a fossilized skull as well as skeletal fragments such as a rib along with toe bone that date to around 76.5 million years back during the Cretaceous period (145 million to 66 million years back). Paleontologists at the Badlands Dinosaur Museum in North Dakota discovered the fossils in the Judith River Formation, in northeastern Montana, between 2017 and 2021, as reported by a new report, published Nov. 25 in the journal Paleontology and Evolutionary Science(opens in new tab).
The team discovered the fossils at first when crewmember Jack Wilson observed a tiny, flat piece of bone extending from the bottom part of a rock, which later ended up to be a nostril of the dinosaur. Nevertheless, the excavating of the bones proved extremely challenging since they had been buried under 26 feet (eight meters) of solid rock. In order to excavate the bones, the scientists needed to chisel away big portions of the cliff with jackhammers.
The structure, identified BDM 107, was jocularily nicknamed “Sisyphus” due to the huge effort required to remove the surrounding rock. (Sisyphus is a character from Greek mythology who after two times cheating death was ordered to continuously roll a rock up a hill for ever by Hades, the god of death.)
The researchers believe that D. wilsoni is the descendant of The predecessor and daspletosaurus torosus of Daspletosaurus horneri, that came out between seventy seven and 75 million years ago. The anatomy of the new discovered beast confirms the notion that the Daspletosaurus family is ancestral to the powerful T. rex. The 3 daspletosaur – types belong within the Tyrannosauridae family, that consists of 9 genera such as Tyrannosaurus. (Daspletosaurus genus is Greek for “frightened lizard.”)
The family tree of Tyrannosauridae has been tough to unravel till today, which makes it difficult to figure out actual evolutionary relationships between specific species.
“Many researchers disagree as to whether tyrannosaurids stand for just one lineage evolving in place, or perhaps many closely related species that don’t descend from a single another,” study co authors as well as palaeontologists Elías Warshaw and Denver Fowler wrote in a statement(opens in new tab). They explained that a shortage of top quality specimens to check out has not helped.
However D. wilsoni’s finding suggests the 3 daspletosaurs came one at a time, similar to continuous ladder – like stages in one evolutionary lineage, instead of separating like evolutionary cousins.
As reported by the editors of the article, D. wilsoni is a great candidate to be a transitional species between D. torosus and D. horneri, as it shares many characteristics with older tyrannosaurs, such as a prominent set of horns across the eye, and traits observed in young species, like enhanced air pockets within the skull.
In this manner, D. wilsoni happens to be a midway point “or ‘missing link” between older and younger tyrannosaur species.
Because these species might have developed in a similar linear way, the team indicates the remainder of tyrannosaurids, like T. rex, may have also developed in a comparable linear way. The scientists are presently planning a new study to investigate the thought, they stated in a statement.