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A tiny tyrannosaur named Harbinger of Destiny was discovered in Utah



A new tyrannosaur fossil has been discovered in Utah – and it is tiny compared to its better known relative, T. rex.

Meet Moros Intrepidus, a small tyrannosaur who lived in Utah during the Cretaceous. At 96 million years old, it is the oldest Cretaceous tyrannosaur species discovered in North America. The discovery narrowed a gap of 70 million years in the tyrant dinosaur record.

And on a small scale, think of the size of a mule deer. Moros was only three to four feet tall at the hip. The specimen found was estimated to be over seven years old and almost fully grown. His name means "Harbinger of Destiny".

While North American mid-sized primitive Tyrannosaurs from the Jurassic period (about 1

50 million years ago) were found, the iconic Tyrannosaurus rex dived in the Cretaceous to 81 million years ago). Lindsay Zanno, paleontologist at North Carolina State University and lead author of a study describing the research, explained that before the discovery of Moros, paleontologists did not know how the tyrant dinosaur got used to the big predator from a relatively small hunter – the fossil record was a blank sheet.

"When and how quickly tyrannosaurs moved from wallflower to prom king has long angered paleontologists," Zanno said in a press release. "The only way to attack this problem was to get out there and find more data about these rare animals."

Zanno and her team spent a decade researching dinosaur bones in late Cretaceous rocks. Her search eventually produced teeth and a hind leg from Moros. Zanno described Moros as light and exceptionally fast.

"These adjustments, along with advanced sensory abilities, are the hallmark of an impressive predator," said Zanno. "It could easily have preyed without preying on the top predators of the day."

The discovery of Moros causes paleontologists to believe that T. Rex exploited the warming temperature and sea level rise at the end of the Cretaceous.

Zanno said, "We now know that it takes less than 15 million years to get to power."


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