Researchers at The Field Museum, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (NCMNS), and North Carolina State University (NCSU) have discovered a new, giant predatory dinosaur that walked the Earth approximately 100 million years ago, in the Cedar Mountain Formation in Utah. The new dinosaur is the first of its kind to be discovered in North America. The study appears in the Nov. 22, 2013 issue of Nature Communications.
The new predator, which was over 30 feet long and weighed more than four tons, was doubtless the top predator in its ecosystem.
"This dinosaur was a colossal predator second only to the great T. rex and perhaps Acrocanthosarus in the North American fossil record," says Lindsay Zanno, lead author on the paper and Director of Paleontology at NCMNS/NCSU.
Scientists have named the dinosaur Siats meekerorum, in reference to a cannibalistic monster from the mythology of the Ute Native American people, and in acknowledgement of the Meeker family for their support for early career paleontologists at The Field Museum.
Siats meekerorum was discovered in 2008 by Zanno as part of a Field Museum expedition to 100-million-year-old rocks of the Cedar Mountain Formation in Utah. The scattered remains of this animal were retrieved from a giant excavation over two summers, and then painstakingly cleaned from rock by staff and volunteers at The Field Museum.
Despite its large size, Siats is not a close relative of T. rex and other tyrannosaurs that were the dominant predators in North America for the last 20 million years of the age of dinosaurs. Rather, it belongs to the carchardontosaurian group of theropods (predatory dinosaurs), whose more famous members include giants like the Argentinean Giganotosaurus. Siats belongs to a branch of the carcharodontosaurian family tree that was previously unknown in North America.
"We were thrilled to d
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