Super predator dinosaur has been discovered in southern Utah. Eighty million years ago this dinosaur was roaming the Earth, frightening other creatures and of course preying on them. The dinosaur was given the name Lythronax argestes. Lythronax translates to “king of gore” while argestes comes from Greek poet Homer’s naming of a south-westerly wind.
The fossils of Lythronax argestes were first discovered in 2009 in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, in Utah. The dinosaur lived in southern Laramidia (today Utah, Texas, New Mexico and Mexico). Laramidia was an island continent that existed during the Late Cretaceous period when a vast interior seaway split the continent of North America in two.
The discovery was published in a study in Plos One journal on November 6th, 2013. It relates the dinosaur evolution to the rise and fall of The Late Cretaceous period (more or less the climate change). The study also channeled the reason behind the presence of various and diverse dinosaur species back then, palaeontologists blame it all on the change of sea level. Randall B. Irmis, co-author of the study and professor at the Natural History Museum of Utah tells us:
“We think that when the sea level was high it was isolating areas in western North America that caused different species to evolve in isolation and that’s why we’re finding so many different species.”
Lythronax argestes won’t just tell us about its anatomy but also about its era: the climate, the ecosystem and the environmental changes. As Dr. Irmis puts it:
“This was a very different place 80 million years ago. It was a very lush, wet, tropical environment and there were no polar ice caps at the time.”
The ferocious predator’s skull show its short, narrow snout, forward slanting eyes and a head full of sharp teeth. Lythronax is just like its close relative, the infamous Tyrannosaurus rex (T. rex) anatomically but it lived earlier. It was the largest living land predator of its time. This makes Lythronax argestes the great uncle of T. rex.
The ferocious dinosaur belongs to the family Tyrannosauridae. Tyrannosaurids were definitely the largest predators in their ecosystem. Members of the genera were mostly discovered in North America and Asia. Lythronax could grow up to an estimated 8 m (26.2 ft) in length and 2494.758 kg (5,500 lb) in weight. Why Lythronax was considered a ferocious hunter was due to fact that the back of its skull was very wide giving it good hunting eyes. This binocular vision feature allowed Lythronax‘s field of view to overlap, thus making it a keen hunter that could perceive depth. T. rex possessed the same feature as well.
The most important part of a dinosaur’s skull -its teeth- in Lythronax is very distinct. The king of gore’s teeth were not big, they resembled banana-shaped meat cleavers. They were serrated just like a steak knife, but also beefy. This gave the predator the quality of slicing meat, inflicting damage to the prey and crushing bone.
The new discovery proves that the age of discovery is not over, and may give way to more in-depth assessment of extinction of the dinosaurs.
You can view the Lythronax argestes fossil at the Natural History Museum of Utah.
Written by: Jaylan Salah