You Learn Something New Everyday

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The fossilized remains of a “tiny” Tyrannosaurus rex were unearthed in a lake bed in northeastern China. After being smuggled into the United States, they were purchased by Massachusetts ophthalmologist Henry Kriegstein, a private collector who in turn donated them to science.

Kriegstein thought he had a infant t-rex on his hands. And rightfully so – the fossil had all the same physical characteristics of a t-rex, only much smaller.

Nicknamed Raptorex, this predator stood only about 9 feet tall and weighed an average of 150 pounds. That’s 1/100th the size of the t-rex, who could weigh as much as 15,000 pounds.

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Raptorex lived some 250 million years ago, 60 million years before it’s giant-sized descendant. He was a predator, and a formidable one, using his oversized head, powerful jaws and razor-sharp teeth to tear into flesh. And just like the t-rex, Raptorex had disproportionately small forelimbs. tr6This discovery stirred a new debate into the long-standing theory that t-rex’s tiny forearms were a recent evolutionary development – one caused by the rapid increase in size of the species. Previous theories have speculated that the forelimbs just couldn’t keep up with the growth of the rest of the body.

Eventually the remains will be shipped back to Northern China to be put on display in a museum in China’s Inner Mongolia region. The creature has been officially named Raptorex kriegsteini after the collector who generously (and wisely) turned it over to science.

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Photo credits: University of Chicago; Todd Marshall, Paul Sereno and Mike Hettwer.


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