Newly discovered species reveals how the T. Rex became king of the dinosaurs
New species of horse-sized dinosaur gives key insights into how a family of small-bodied dinosaurs evolved over millions of years to become fearsome giants.
Standing 12 metres tall with huge powerful jaws lined with slashing teeth, the T Rex was undoubtedly one of the most fearsome creatures to roam the Earth.
But quite how tyrannosaurs became the giant, intelligent predators that dominated the landscape some 66 million years ago has remained something of a mystery.
Now, the remains of a new species of horse-sized dinosaur, named Timurlengia euotica, unearthed in Uzbekistan has given researchers key insights into how a family of small-bodied dinosaurs evolved over millions of years to become fearsome giants.
The species’ skull was much smaller than that of T. rex, indicating that it did not grow to the same enormous size. However, key features of Timurlengia’s skull reveal that its brain and senses were already highly developed, the team says.
“The ancestors of T. rex would have looked a whole lot like Timurlengia, a horse-sized hunter with a big brain and keen hearing that would put us to shame,” said the University of Edinburgh’s Steve Brusatte. “Only after these ancestral tyrannosaurs evolved their clever brains and sharp senses did they grow into the colossal sizes of T. rex. Tyrannosaurs had to get smart before they got big.
Jason is the commissioning editor for BBC Science Focus. He holds an MSc in physics and was named Section Editor of the Year by the British Society of Magazine Editors in 2019. He has been reporting on science and technology for more than a decade. During this time, he's walked the tunnels of the Large Hadron Collider, watched Stephen Hawking deliver his Reith Lecture on Black Holes and reported on everything from simulation universes to dancing cockatoos. He looks after the magazine’s and website’s news sections and makes regular appearances on the Instant Genius Podcast.