T. Rex But a Prince

Crowned Dragon Found in China!

from Sploid

Tyrannosaurus Rex was the mightiest beast in all the land long ago. But before he was even a twinkle in his mother's huge dimwitted eye, there was Guanlong, the "crowned dragon," T. Rex's grand pappy.

Guanlong was unearthed in China, buried in what was once a wetland, but is now part of the Gobi Desert, where it lived some 160 million years ago.

Researchers found the nearly complete skeleton of a juvenile and the partial skeleton of a 3-metre-long adult.

The fossils were found in 2002, but it wasn't until yesterday that an announcement was made.

The name Guanlong refers neither to the monster's regal status nor its unrelenting savagery. It's an homage to the strange shape of the beast's nose.

"Considering that Guanlong is a tyrannosaur, its (nasal) crest is really amazing," Xu told New Scientist. "In this regard, Guanlong's exaggerated, complex crest is similar to the sexually selected ornaments widely present in extant and extinct vertebrates."

If three meters seem small, it should be noted that it wasn't until into late in their evolution that the Tyrannosaurs reached their legendary size.

"They put in the early part of their history as secondary predators," in the shadow of allosaurs and spinosaurs, says Tom Holtz of the University of Maryland in College Park, US.

It was 80 million years before they reached heights of nine meters.

15 million years later a fiery asteroid laid waste to the lot of them.


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