Dinosaur Embryo Helps Crack Baby Tyrannosaur Mystery

Related Articles

They are among the largest predators ever to walk the Earth, but experts have discovered that some baby tyrannosaurs were only the size of a Border Collie dog when they took their first steps.

The first-known fossils of tyrannosaur embryos have shed light on the early development of the colossal animals, which could grow to 40 feet in length and weigh eight tonnes.

A team of palaeontologists, led by a University of Edinburgh researcher, made the discovery by examining the fossilised remains of a tiny jaw bone and claw unearthed in Canada and the US.

 

Producing 3D scans of the delicate fragments revealed that they belonged to baby tyrannosaurs – cousins of T. rex – which, based on the size of the fossils, were around three feet long when they hatched.

The team’s findings suggest that tyrannosaur eggs – the remains of which have never been found – were around 17 inches long. This could aid efforts to recognise such eggs in the future and gain greater insights into the nesting habits of tyrannosaurs, researchers say.

The analysis also revealed that the three-centimetre-long jaw bone possesses distinctive tyrannosaur features, including a pronounced chin, indicating that these physical traits were present before the animals hatched.

Little is known about the earliest developmental stages of tyrannosaurs – which lived more than 70-million-years-ago – despite being one of the most studied dinosaur families. Most tyrannosaur fossils previously studied have been of adult or older juvenile animals.

The study, published in the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, was supported by the Royal Society, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and National Science Foundation. It also involved researchers from the Universities of Alberta and Calgary, Canada, and Montana State and Chapman Universities, US.

Dr Greg Funston, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, who led the study, said: “These bones are the first window into the early lives of tyrannosaurs and they teach us about the size and appearance of baby tyrannosaurs. We now know that they would have been the largest hatchlings to ever emerge from eggs, and they would have looked remarkably like their parents–both good signs for finding more material in the future.”

UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH

Header Image Credit : Greg Funston

Download the HeritageDaily mobile application on iOS and Android

More on this topic

LATEST NEWS

Noushabad – The Hidden Underground City

Noushabed, also called Oeei or Ouyim is an ancient subterranean city, built beneath the small town of Nushabad in present-day Iran.

10 British Iron Age Hill Forts

A hill fort is a type of earthworks used as a fortified refuge or defended settlement, located to exploit a rise in elevation for defensive advantage.

Stabiae – The Roman Resort Buried by Mount Vesuvius

Stabiae was an ancient Roman town and seaside resort near Pompeii, that was largely buried during the AD 79 eruption of Mount Vesuvius in present-day Italy.

Astronomers Accurately Measure the Temperature of Red Supergiant Stars

Red supergiants are a class of star that end their lives in supernova explosions. Their lifecycles are not fully understood, partly due to difficulties in measuring their temperatures. For the first time, astronomers develop an accurate method to determine the surface temperatures of red supergiants.

Researchers Overturn Hypothesis That Ancient Mammal Ancestors Moved Like Modern Lizards

The backbone is the Swiss Army Knife of mammal locomotion. It can function in all sorts of ways that allows living mammals to have remarkable diversity in their movements.

Archaeologists Discover one of Poland’s Largest Megalithic Tomb Complexes

Archaeologists excavating in Poland have discovered a large megalithic complex, containing several dozen tombs dating from 5500 years ago.

New Technology Allows Scientists First Glimpse of Intricate Details of Little Foot’s Life

In June 2019, an international team brought the complete skull of the 3.67-million-year-old Little Foot Australopithecus skeleton, from South Africa to the UK and achieved unprecedented imaging resolution of its bony structures and dentition in an X-ray synchrotron-based investigation at the UK's national synchrotron, Diamond Light Source.

Neandertals Had Capacity to Perceive and Produce Human Speech

Neandertals -- the closest ancestor to modern humans -- possessed the ability to perceive and produce human speech, according to a new study published by an international multidisciplinary team of researchers including Binghamton University anthropology professor Rolf Quam and graduate student Alex Velez.

Popular stories

Ani – The Abandoned Medieval City

Ani is a ruined medieval city, and the former capital of the Bagratid Armenian kingdom, located in the Eastern Anatolia region of the Kars province in present-day Turkey.

Interactive Map of Earth’s Asteroid and Meteor Impact Craters

Across the history of our planet, around 190 terrestrial impact craters have been identified that still survive the Earth’s geological processes, with the most recent event occurring in 1947 at the Sikhote-Alin Mountains of south-eastern Russia.

The Sunken Town of Pavlopetri

Pavlopetri, also called Paulopetri, is a submerged ancient town, located between the islet of Pavlopetri and the Pounta coast of Laconia, on the Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece.

Exploring the Avebury Stone Circle Landscape

The area was designated part of the Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites by UNESCO in 1986, in recognition for one of the most architecturally sophisticated stone circles in the world, in addition to the rich Neolithic, and Bronze age remains found nearby, such as the West Kennet Avenue, Beckhampton Avenue, West Kennet Long Barrow, the Sanctuary, and Windmill Hill.