Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

First ever southern tyrannosaur dinosaur discovered

Date:
March 26, 2010
Source:
University of Cambridge
Summary:
Scientists have found the first ever evidence that tyrannosaur dinosaurs existed in the southern continents. They identified a hip bone found at Dinosaur Cove in Victoria, Australia, as belonging to an ancestor of Tyrannosaurus rex.

Tyrannosaurus rex.
Credit: iStockphoto

Scientists from Cambridge, London and Melbourne have found the first ever evidence that tyrannosaur dinosaurs existed in the southern continents. They identified a hip bone found at Dinosaur Cove in Victoria, Australia as belonging to an ancestor of Tyrannosaurus rex.

The find sheds new light on the evolutionary history of this group of dinosaurs. It also raises the crucial question of why it was only in the north that tyrannosaurs evolved into the giant predators like T. rex.

The 30cm-long pubis bone from Dinosaur Cove looks like a rod with two expanded ends, one of which is flattened and connects to the hip and the other looks like a 'boot'.

According to Dr Roger Benson of the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Cambridge, who identified the find: "The bone is unambiguously identifiable as a tyrannosaur because these dinosaurs have very distinctive hip bones."

The discovery lays to rest the belief held by some scientists that tyrannosaurs never made it to the southern continents.

"This is an exciting discovery because tyrannosaur fossils had only ever been found in the northern hemisphere before and some scientists thought tyrannosaurs never made it down south.

"Although we only have one bone, it shows that 110 million years ago small tyrannosaurs like ours might have been found worldwide. This find has major significance for our knowledge of how this group of dinosaurs evolved." says Dr Benson.

Dr Paul Barrett, Palaeontologist at the Natural History Museum, London and member of the research team commented: "The absence of tyrannosauroids from the southern continents was becoming more and more anomalous as representatives of other 'northern' dinosaur groups started to show up in the south. This find shows that tyrannosauroids were able to reach these areas early in their evolutionary history and also hints at the possibility that others remain to be discovered in Africa, South America and India."

The bone would have come from an animal about three metres long and weighing around 80 kg, similar to a human, and would have had the large head and small arms that make tyrannosaurs so distinctive.

The newly identified dinosaur, known as NMV P186069, was much smaller than T. rex, which was 12 metres long and weighed around four tonnes. Giant size like this only evolved late in the tyrannosaur lineage.

Compared with T. rex, which lived about 70 million years ago at the end of Cretaceous period, NMV P186069 lived earlier during the Cretaceous, around 110 million years ago.

During the time of the dinosaurs the continents gradually went from a single supercontinent towards something like their present-day arrangement. This tyrannosaur is from the mid-stages of this continental break-up, when the southern continents of South America, Antarctica, Africa and Australia had separated from the northern continents, but had not separated from each other.

While answering the question of whether or not tyrannosaurs lived in both the southern and northern hemispheres, the new find leaves another, deeper mystery: why did tyrannosaurs evolve into giant predators such as T. rex only in the northern hemisphere?

According to Dr Benson: "It is difficult to explain why different groups succeeded in the north and the south if they originally existed in both places. What we need to know now is just how diverse the early radiation of tyrannosaurs was, why they went extinct, leaving only giant-sized, short-armed species like T. rex, and how successful they might have been in the southern hemisphere. We can only answer these questions with new discoveries."

About the excavation: Dinosaur Cove is in south-east Australia, where the Otway ranges meet the sea to the west of Cape Otway, along the Great Ocean road. The fossil-bearing rock layers consist of sand-, silt- and mudstones around 106 million years old.

The site was excavated during the 1980s and 1990s. Work at the site was challenging: access involved either climbing down dangerous cliffs or landing a boat or helicopter on rock platforms at low tide, and the hardness of the rock meant heavy mining equipment and dynamite was required to uncover the fossil-bearing rock layers. Swedish mining company Atlas Copco donated some of the equipment used and the excavation was funded by the National Geographic Society.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Cambridge. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Roger B. J. Benson et al. A Southern Tyrant Reptile. Science, 25 March 2010

Cite This Page:

University of Cambridge. "First ever southern tyrannosaur dinosaur discovered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 March 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100325143045.htm>.
University of Cambridge. (2010, March 26). First ever southern tyrannosaur dinosaur discovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100325143045.htm
University of Cambridge. "First ever southern tyrannosaur dinosaur discovered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100325143045.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Fossils & Ruins News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Did ISIS Destroy Jonah's Tomb?

Did ISIS Destroy Jonah's Tomb?

Newsy (July 25, 2014) Unverified footage posted to YouTube purportedly shows ISIS militants destroying a shrine widely believed to be the tomb of the prophet Jonah. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

AFP (July 25, 2014) Europe's highest train, the little train of Artouste in the French Pyrenees, celebrates its 80th birthday. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Richard III's Car Park Burial Site Opens to Public

Richard III's Car Park Burial Site Opens to Public

AFP (July 25, 2014) Visitors will be able to look down from a glass walkway on the grave of King Richard III when a new centre opens in the English cathedral city of Leicester, where the infamous hunchback was found under a car park in 2012. Duration: 00:35 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins