A big brain, keen hearing and a fortuitous extinction event all likely helped create the biggest, baddest carnivore that ever walked the earth, according to a study on a newly discovered ancestor of Tyrannosaurus rex.
The horse-sized dinosaur fills gaps in the fossil record of T. rex evolution, helping to solve many mysteries about the enormous carnivore that was at the top of the terrestrial food chain before it went extinct as the Age of Dinosaurs came to a close about 65 million years ago.
We now know that, long before T. rex emerged, "tyrannosaurs were already hardwired with the sensory arsenal of a top predator before they got to be super giants," project leader Steve Brusatte of the University of Edinburgh's School of GeoSciences told Discovery News.
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The findings are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Co-authors Alexander Averianov and Hans-Dieter Sues found the remains of the new tyrannosaur while conducting expeditions in the remote deserts of Uzbekistan, Central Asia. They named the tyrannosaur Timurlengia euotica after a central Asian warlord, Timur, and also with a word meaning "well eared." The word refers to the new dinosaur's incredible sense of hearing.