Researchers from the University of Calgary and The Royal Tyrell Museum of Paleontology today published their findings on a newly identified dinosaur, Thanatotheristes degrootorum, a somewhat smaller member of the tyrannosaur family, but one with more teeth on the upper jaw than those previously identified.
Thanatotheristes may not be quite as long as the most famous of the Tyrannosaurs–8m long opposed to 12m–but a “longer, deeper snout” and “ridges along the upper jaw” are hallmarks of the species, according to the team, which includes Darla Zelenitsky, Jared Voris, Caleb Brown and François Therrien.
Significantly, the dinosaur is also older than other large carnivores, at least those native to Canada, with it living an estimated 79 million years ago. Tyrannosaurus Rex, by comparison, rode the last wave of life before dinosaur extinction, living around 67 million years ago.
- Provinciality – The occurrence of species within well-defined geographic areas. (Encylcopedia.com)
- Niche – the ecological role of an organism in a community especially in regard to food consumption . (Merriam Webster)
The actual remains were discovered nearly a decade ago, in the heart of the Canadian Badlands region near Hays, but stored at the Royal Tyrell Museum until identified. While it was found near the Dinosaur Provincial Park formation, the dinosaur itself was found in another, older geologic formation named Foremost. According to the researchers, this adds to the theory that large carnivores in North America had variations to match the region where they lived, something called provinciality, similar to how tigers and lions are big cats with significant differences filling the same niche today.
—with files from Evan McIntosh.