Tiny T-Rex: Fossils reveal Tyrannosaurus mini-me roamed Earth 70 million years ago

'Smaller cousin from the north' could provide insight into the ancient Arctic environment

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The Independent Online

The powerful predator Tyrannosaurus rex had its own mini-me, scientists have discovered.

An analysis of 70-million-year-old fossilised skull remains found in northern Alaska has shown them to be from the T-Rex’s cousin, a new pygmy Tyrannosaurus, according to research published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Scientists who examined the skull roof, maxilla and jaw have revealed that the Nanuqsaurus hoglundi would have been much smaller than its cousin.

Though by no means small - the mini T-Rex would have been around seven metres long from snout to tail - an adult skull would have measured 25in long, much shorter than the 60in head of its cousin, believed to have been the largest of all carnivorous dinosaurs.

Study co-authors Anthony Fiorillo and Ronald Tykoski from the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Texas, believe the smaller body size could reflect an adaption to scarcer resources in the Arctic seasons and the species' partial isolation in the north.

"The 'pygmy tyrannosaur' alone is really cool because it tells us something about what the environment was like in the ancient Arctic," Mr Fiorillo said.

"But what makes this discovery even more exciting is that Nanuqsaurus hoglundi also tells us about the biological richness of the ancient polar world during a time when the Earth was very warm compared to today."