LAWRENCE, KANSAS — For now, there are exact about a issues researchers and students on the College of Kansas settle on other folks to dig regarding the brand new dinosaur they currently excavated in Montana’s Hell Creek Formation.
First off, it’s an “improbable” full fragment of the greater jaw with all of its enamel intact, along with bits of the specimen’s cranium, foot, hips and backbones.
It seems to be the uncommon fossilized stays of a young Tyrannosaurus rex that lived sixty six.5 million years ago. However it additionally would possibly perchance be one more species of smaller meat-involving dinosaur (it’s a bit of-of a scientific controversy) — they’re quiet examining their discovery.
Cautious, diminutive preparation of its fragile bones is initiating to recount vital files that can abet unravel the life historical previous of Tyrannosaurus rex.
Other young tyrannosaur specimens were recovered through the years, however since animal skeletons exchange form as they develop, some confusion as to their evolutionary relationships has ensued. Some palaeontologists possess the young ones would possibly perchance represent assorted species, while assorted workers possess urged all of them represent assorted reveal phases of 1 species—Tyrannosaurus rex.
Researchers possess the specimen is a young Tyrannosaurus rex, however, are quietly conducting their diagnosis to be sure. They query to post their findings in the arriving months.
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“The enamel counsel it’s a Tyrannosaurus rex; alternatively, there is quite extra work to be carried out,” mentioned David Burnham, preparator of vertebrate palaeontology on the KU Biodiversity Institute. “On sage of a young T. rex is so uncommon, there are only about a which were stumbled on through the years, so it’s advanced to discern what are changes attributable to reveal or if the variations in the bones replicate assorted species. Fortuitously, KU has an older T. rex to evaluate and one more young T. rex on loan to abet decipher this field.”
One risk is the specimen represents one more carnivorous dinosaur dubbed a Nanotyrannus that likewise became stumbled on in the Hell Creek Formation and described by assorted scientists. The Nanotyrannus is a field of controversy because it goes to also represent a separate species, or it goes to even be a juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex.
“Advanced the matter here is age,” Burnham mentioned. “Ontogeny, that’s the path of reveal — and all thru that path of we exchange. Grownup dinosaur bones, especially in the cranium, don’t come all over the identical as their youthful selves. So, if any individual finds a diminutive one or juvenile fossil they would possibly perchance possess it’s a new species, however, we have to examine out because it goes to also represent a youthful reveal stage of an existing species. It’s cheap to evaluate Nanotyrannus would possibly perchance be helpful — however, we must exhibit it’s not exactly a stage in the life historical previous of T. rex.”
For now, Burnham and his team are examining the bones they’ve abet in the lab and planning a return to Hell Creek to conduct fieldwork and stare for extra of the fossil.
“We’re going to head abet out this summer season — we’re going staunch to that web snort,” mentioned the KU researcher. “We possess and hope there’s extra there.”
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The KU excavation crew at work. Credit: David Burnham.