Moros intrepidus. (Credit: Jorge Gonzalez)
The Tyrannosaurus rex is one of the best-known and most fearsome dinosaurs on the Earth, but a newly discovered 4-foot cousin was probably just as scary.
Known as Moros Intrepidus (which means “premonition of the downfall”), this small tyrannosaur lived 100 million years ago. Despite its small size, it was still lethal, North Carolina State University paleontoloist Lindsay Zanno said.
“Moros is light weight and very fast,” Zanno said in a statement. “These adjustments, along with advanced sensory capabilities, that is the hallmark of a formidable predator. It would easily run down prey, while avoiding the confrontation with the top predators of the day.”
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“Although the earliest Cretaceous tyrannosaurs were small, their predatory specializations meant that they were trained to be able to take advantage of new opportunities when global warming temperatures, rising sea levels and a shrinking reach is restructuring ecosystems at the beginning of the Late Cretaceous,” Zanno added. “We now know it took less than 15 million years in power.”
Besides the low height, it is thought it only weighed 78 kilograms and will reach maturity between 6 and 7 years.
Zanno and her team of researchers found teeth and a hind limb of the new tyrannosaur in an area where they had previously discovered Siats meekerorum, a giant meat-eating carcharodontosaur that lived during the same period.
The findings were in the western part of Utah, an area that was part of a “lush, deltaic environment during the Cretaceous period.
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The findings were published in Communications of the Biology.