4-foot-tall T. rex cousin discovered, was a ‘harbinger of doom’
Tyrannosaurus rex may be among the most well-known and terrifying dinosaurs to walk the Earth, but a newly discovered 4-foot cousin was likely just as scary.
It's a display 67 million years in the making.
Remarkable fossils are set to go on display for the first time ever, showcasing a T. rex and a Triceratops fighting a ferocious battle to the death.
The fossils, nicknamed "Dueling Dinosaurs," will be seen by the public for the first time at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. The stunning fossils, which include "the best-preserved skeletons of Triceratops and T. rex unearthed to date — including the only 100% complete skeleton of T. rex yet discovered," according to a statement from the museum, were initially discovered in 2006.
Artist’s rendering of battling Tyrannosaurus rex and Triceratops horridus. Illustration: Anthony Hutchings. (Credit: Friends of the NC Museum of Natural Sciences)
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“Becoming the home of the Dueling Dinosaurs is further evidence that the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is one of the finest museums in the world,” said Susi Hamilton, secretary of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, in the statement. “We look forward to inviting dinosaur lovers of all ages to experience this awe-inspiring fossil and learn from our talented team of paleontologists as they undertake a one-of-a-kind research project to uncover and analyze them.”
The fossils were a gift to the museum from the nonprofit Friends of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.
Believed to be preserved in a "potential predator-prey encounter," the fossils have not been studied and are still entombed in the sediment from the region in Montana where they were discovered.
Due to the "rare burial conditions," each bone is still in its natural position, giving experts access to data that would be lost during excavation, including body outlines, skin impressions and potential evidence of interaction, including teeth of the T. rex in the triceratops' body.
(Credit: Matt Zeher)
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“We have not yet studied this specimen; it is a scientific frontier," Dr. Lindsay Zanno, head of paleontology at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and associate research professor at North Carolina State University, added. "The preservation is phenomenal, and we plan to use every technological innovation available to reveal new information on the biology of T. rex and Triceratops. This fossil will forever change our view of the world’s two favorite dinosaurs.”
Researchers have learned a great deal about the anatomy of the Tyrannosaur in recent months.
In January, a new study confirmed the most fearsome dinosaur to ever walk the Earth underwent a massive growth spurt as a teenager, citing two fossils found in the early 20th century.
In September 2019, a study was published that suggested the terrifying dinosaur had a stiff skull that allowed it to not shatter its own bones with its bite force, while simultaneously devouring its kill.
In addition to having a stiff skull, T. rex likely had something similar to an "air conditioner" in its head, allowing it to stay cool while hunting, according to a separate study.
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