Navigation Links
FSU biologist says new dinosaur is oldest cousin of Tyrannosaurus rex

Florida State University paleobiologist Gregory M. Erickson sliced up some ancient dinosaur bones uncovered in China to help an international team of scientists identify a new genus and species. Despite striking skeletal differences and only subtle similarities, the FSU researcher determined that the two remarkably intact specimens were cousins of North America's hulking Tyrannosaurus rex.

Make that distant cousins –?the newfound, relatively diminutive 10-foot-long tyrannosauroids pre-dated the T. rex branch of their family tree by about 100 million years. That makes them the oldest known as well as the most primitive tyrannosauroid fossils ever found.

The discovery of the oldest tyrannosaurs is described in the journal Nature on Feb. 9. Erickson co-authored the paper with seven scientists from China, the United States and Canada.

Until now, tyrannosaurs such as T. rex were best known from the end of the Cretaceous period, about 65-70 million years ago. The new, nearly complete skeletons from China offer a snapshot of the earliest tyrannosauroid just after they morphed into a different branch of the family tree –?95 million years before cousin T. rex ruled the roost.

Researchers say the identification of the oldest basal (primitive) tyrannosauroid yet will shed light on the early evolution and geographical distribution of its ancestors –?small therapod dinosaurs known as coelurosaurs that were the closest relatives of modern-day birds.

"It's not only the oldest tyrannosaur but also the sexiest," Erickson said, what with its flashy crest atop its small head –?an extravagant ornament likely used only for attraction and display purposes and the first of its kind seen in the tyrannosaur's predatory family. The creature has been named "Guanlong wucaii" and translated loosely from Chinese, that's "crowned dragon five colors."

An internationally known expert on the development and evolution of the vertebrate musculoskeletal sy stem, Erickson helped confirm the tyrannosauroid lineage of the two specimens by noting, among other features, the characteristic long hip, the U-shaped teeth and the fused nasal bridge. While they weren't exactly T. rex look-alikes, they were definitely family.

But there were marked differences. Among them, in addition to its distinctive cranial crest, Guanlong was roughly 100 million years older and a fourth the size of its big, bad T. rex cousin. It had three fingers; T. rex had two. Its arms were longer and more delicate, its head smaller and its agility superior to the car-crushing, restroom-ripping monster of "Jurassic Park" movie fame.

While the sex of the two T. rex cousins was impossible to ascertain, Erickson determined their respective ages by examining the growth rings on the inside of their bones. Those of the larger animal had seven closely spaced rings –?revealing rapid growth to young adulthood –?followed by six widely spaced rings corresponding with slower growth to full maturity by the end of its relatively long 13-year life. Its cranial crest would have reached its full size by then, thus providing an accurate model for scientists. The bones of the smaller specimen had only six closely spaced rings and no widely spaced ones, indicating that it was a nearly grown juvenile who died prematurely, not simply a smaller, adult female.

"I study these animals as living organisms, not just as specimens on an evolutionary tree," Erickson said. "For me, it's about how they lived, not just how they died."

Guanlong lived in China –?its remains were found in the Junggar Basin of Xinjiang, in the western reaches of the Gobi Desert. Erickson contends that this discovery is merely the tip of the iceberg in that area. "China has been a hot spot for dinosaur fossils since the 1990s," he said.

Widely publicized research by Erickson –?who also is known as an expert in dinosaur and crocodilian dentition, or bite force –?has helped to generate interest in the sciences among young children, typically fascinated by animals such as dinosaurs and crocodiles. He is an assistant professor of anatomy and vertebrate paleobiology at FSU; curator of the Florida State University Museum; and a research associate at both The American Museum of Natural History in New York City and The Field Museum in Chicago. Erickson also is the animal expert on the National Geographic Channel series "Hunter and Hunted."


Source:Florida State University

Related biology news :

1. Octopuses occasionally stroll around on two arms, UC Berkeley biologists report
2. GeneNotes - A novel information management software for biologists
3. NYU biologists map out early stages of embryo formation
4. FSU biologists describe key role of signal-transcribing gene during cell cycle
5. Jefferson biologist coaxing human embryonic stem cells to make dopamine with simpler, faster method
6. High-tech tags on marine animals yield valuable data for biologists and oceanographers
7. UCSD biologists find new evidence for one-way evolution
8. UC San Diego biologists solve plant growth hormone enigma
9. BGSU biologist trying to crack microscopic code
10. FSU biologists uncover mechanisms that shape cells for better or worse
11. NYU biologists identify gene that coordinates two cellular processes
Post Your Comments:

(Date:10/29/2015)... JOLLA, Calif. , Oct. 29, 2015  The ... a new report titled, "DNA Synthesis and Biosecurity: Lessons ... well the Department of Health and Human Services guidance ... issued in 2010. --> ... but it also has the potential to pose unique ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... Oct. 29, 2015  Rubicon Genomics, Inc., today ... distribution of its DNA library preparation products, including ... new ThruPLEX Plasma-seq kit. ThruPLEX Plasma-seq has been ... of NGS libraries for liquid biopsies--the analysis of ... prognostic applications in cancer and other conditions. Eurofins ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... Connecticut , October 29, 2015 ... a biometric authentication company focused on the growing ... smart wallet announces that StackCommerce, a leading marketplace ... be featuring the Wocket® smart wallet on StackSocial ... NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" or the "Company"), a biometric ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... --> ... 2020 report analyzes that automating biobanking workflow will ... long-term samples, minimizing manual errors, improving the workflow ... errors such as mislabeling or inaccurate sample barcoding ... a vital role in blood fractionation, DNA extraction, ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... 25, 2015  PharmAthene, Inc. (NYSE MKT: PIP) announced ... stockholder rights plan (Rights Plan) in an effort to ... (NOLs) under Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code ... PharmAthene,s use of its NOLs could be substantially limited ... in Section 382 of the Code. In general, an ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... 2 nouvelles études permettent d , ... les souches bactériennes retrouvées dans la plaque dentaire ... . Ces recherches  ouvrent une nouvelle voie ... de l,un des problèmes de santé les plus ... --> 2 nouvelles études permettent d , ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... Studies reveal the differences in species of bacteria ... for more effective treatment for one of the most commonly ... --> --> Gum disease is one ... relatively little was understood about the bacteria associated with it ... researchers from the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition together with ...
Breaking Biology Technology: