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Old new tyrannosauroid?



--A reference to the publication would have been nice (Nature?).--

Just noticed this on the BBC news:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8340922.stm


Oldest T. rex relative identified

Scientists have identified the most ancient fossil relative of the predatory 
dinosaur Tyrannosaurus rex.

The new addition to T. rex's clan is known from a 30cm-long skull uncovered 
during excavations in Gloucestershire in the 1900s.

The well-preserved fossil is now held in London's Natural History Museum.

A British-German team has now uncovered evidence linking it to what may be the 
most famous dinosaur family of all.

The dinosaur, named Proceratosaurus, lived about 165m years ago, during the 
middle Jurassic Period.

The two-legged, meat-eater would have measured about 3m long and weighed up to 
50 or 60kg.

The palaeontologists used computed tomography (CT) techniques to generate a 3D 
image of the delicate skull to investigate its internal structure in meticulous 
detail.

Dr Angela Milner, associate keeper of palaeontology at the Natural History 
Museum, told BBC News: "This is a unique specimen. It is the only one of its 
kind known in the world."

She added: "It was quite a surprise when our analysis showed we had the oldest 
known relative of T. rex.

"Fossils collected a century ago can now be studied again with the benefit of 
much greater knowledge of dinosaurs from around the world."

Originally described in 1910 as a new species of Megalosaurus, the fossil was 
presented to the museum in 1942.

The skull was unearthed during excavations for a reservoir close to 
Minchinhampton in Gloucestershire.

Televisual representation of Tyrannosaurus rex (BBC)
T. rex lived during the Cretaceous Period

Dr Milner said that despite obvious differences between the skulls of 
Proceratosaurus and T.rex - such as their divergent sizes - the two shared many 
similarities.

"If you look at the animal (Proceratosaurus) in detail, it has the same kinds 
of windows in the side of the skull for increasing the jaw muscles," she told 
BBC News.

"It has the same kinds of teeth - particularly at the front of the jaws. 
They're small teeth and almost banana-shaped, which are just the kind of teeth 
T. rex has."

"Inside the skull, which we were able to look at using CT scanning, there are 
lots of internal air spaces. Tyrannosaurus had those as well."

Although it has attracted much interest because of its exquisite preservation, 
it has not been closely studied until now, thus, its link to the tyrannosaurs 
remained undiscovered.

"This is still one of the best-preserved dinosaur skulls found in Europe," said 
co-author Dr Oliver Rauhut from the Bavarian State Collection for Palaeontology 
and Geology in Munich.

"It is really surprising that it has received so little attention since its 
original description."


Cheers!!

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Mikko K. Haaramo, M.Sc.

Vertebrate paleontologist
Department of Geology
P.O.Box 64 [Gustaf HÃllstrÃmin katu 2a]
FIN-00014  University of Helsinki
Finland
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