Newly Discovered 'King Of Gore,' Vicious T. Rex Cousin, Unveiled In Utah
Researchers in Utah have unveiled a new tyrannosaurus dubbed the "king of gore." The massive carnivore was discovered in 2009 at the 1.9-million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah, the site of numerous dinosaur fossil finds over the years. The "king of gore" is believed to have roamed what is now North America 80 million years ago, according to a study published today in a PLoS ONE.
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The new tyrannosaurus, Lythronax argestes, had several physical features shared with everyone's favorite tyrannosaurus, Tyrannosaurus rex. Lythronax had a short, narrow snout, a wide back the skull and forward-oriented eyes, resulting in "binocular vision," and came on the scene 10 to 12 million years before T. rex. The three-ton Lythronax was about 30 feet long, making it 10 feet smaller than T. rex.
"The width of the back of the skull of Lythronax allowed it to see with an overlapping field of view—giving it binocular vision—very useful for a predator and a condition we associate with T rex," said lead study author Mark Loewen, of the Natural History Museum and of the University of Utah.
Paleontologists previously believed that tyrannosaurid dinosaurs with wide skulls came along 70 million years ago, during the Late Cretaceous period, but the wide-skulled Lythronax pushes that figure back another 10 million years.
As for that name—"king of gore"—the researchers say it stems from the fact that Lythronax would have been a ruthless killing machine.
"[Lythronax's] forward-facing eyes, powerful limbs and large size would have made it an efficient hunter of both duckbilled dinosaurs and horned dinosaurs like Diabloceratops," co-author Joseph Sertich, of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, told Discovery. "A mouthful of knife-edged teeth set in powerful jaws would have made short work of potential prey, carving out huge chunks of flesh and bone" and then swallowing it whole.
The Lythronax can be seen on display at the Natural Museum of Utah's "Past Worlds" exhibit.
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