Published: Thu, February 13, 2020
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

New 'grim reaper' dinosaur discovered in Canada

New 'grim reaper' dinosaur discovered in Canada

This new species was 26 to 30 feet long and weighed about 2 tons as a full-grown adult, according to scientists.

Darla Zelenitsky, who is Voris's PhD thesis supervisor, said Thanatotheristes predates T. rex by about 12 million years and is the oldest known tyrannosaur discovered in Canada. Until a year ago, the specimen lay in a drawer at the Royal Tyrrell Museum.

A new species of tyrannosaur dating back nearly 80 million years has been discovered by a farmer and his wife in Canada.

It seems to have more in common with a type of tyrannosaur found in Alberta called Daspletosaurus.

Palaeontologists show off the fossils of the Thanatotheristes degrootorum. "Hearing that it is a new species, and seeing it given our family name, was beyond belief", added Sandra De Groot.

"Thanatotheristes can be distinguished from all other tyrannosaurs by numerous characteristics of the skull, but the most prominent are vertical ridges that run the length of the upper jaw", said Jared Voris, University of Calgary doctorate student and lead author of the new study, in an interview with Royal Tyrell Museum of Paleontology.

Anyone who finds a fossil should leave it where it is, note its exact location and contact the museum, he said. Nevertheless, the Tyrannosaurus family is full of interesting creatures, and thanks to paleontologists in Canada, that family just got a little bit larger.

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"These ridges are not like anything we've ever seen before in other tyrannosaur species", he said.

There were some other fossils found nearby those of T. degrootorum in Alberta, but those belonged to some plant-eating dinosaurs, Live Science reported. "We knew it was special because you could clearly see the fossilized teeth", he said.

The study found that Thanatos had a long, deep snout, similar to more primitive tyrannosaurs that lived in the southern United States.

Known contemporaries of Thanatotheristes also discovered in Alberta include the horned dinosaur Xenoceratops and dome-headed dinosaur Colepiocephale.

Whereas T-Rex - the most famous of all dinosaur species, immortalised in Steven Spielberg's 1993 epic Jurassic Park - stalked its prey around 66 million years ago, Thanatos dates back at least 79 million years, the team said.

Thanatotheristes highlights diversity, not only in Canada's fossil record, but the tyrannosaur family as well.

"This discovery is significant because it fills in a gap in our understanding of tyrannosaur evolution", concluded Dr. François Therrien, Curator of Dinosaur Palaeoecology at the Royal Tyrrell Museum.

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