A new fossil discovery has revealed that a tiny cousin of the Tyrannosaurus rex once journeyed around the Arctic and has been named Nanuqsaurus hoglundi. It is around 70 million years old and had a skull which was between the size of 23 and 27 inches long when fully grown. In contrast, an adult T. rex had a skull that was nearly 60 inches in length. That is a difference of about five feet. As for it’s full size at adulthood, the Arctic tyrannosaur N. hoglund measured about 24 feet from tip to tail. That is just a bit smaller than 60 percent of the size of its bigger relative, the larger T. rex, but even on the scale of all smaller dinosaurs, though, this is still a fairly big size.
The study lead researcher Anthony Fiorillo, who works at a museum in Dallas, stated that the pygmy tyrannosaur was very interesting because it told scientists something about how the Earth’s environment was like in the Arctic during prehistoric times. He declared that what also made the N. hoglundi find so exciting was that it also showed the organic richness of the ancient polar biosphere during a time when the world was much warmer when compared to the present time.
The identification of this new species came about from a few skull bone fragments that were discovered back in 2006 on the North Slope of Alaska, at a quarry located on the inland. Initially, paleontologists believed that the bones belonged to another type of T. rex dinosaur known as Gorgosaurus libratus. However after more in-depth study, it showed that the bones were around the 70 million year mark and appeared to fill both an evolutionary and also a geographical gap that were between numerous other tyrannosaur species.
The first part of the scientific name given to the new species means “polar lizard”, and the second was for the scientist Forrest Hoglund. Based on all the recent studies done, Fiorillo and his associates found that the small tyrannosaur was most definitely a separate species, a tiny sized meat eater who covered the Arctic tundra.
Another event that was going on at the time with the Arctic bully was that it was really living much further south than is understood today. The Earth’s tectonic plates have just shifted toward the poles with the passage of time. Numerous paleo-geographic maps have laid out how Alaska was unquestionably still much further above the Arctic Circle back around 70 million years ago.
The study has shown that this pygmy dinosaur was small in relative terms due to it having developed a lesser framed body build than other tyrannosaurs due to the seasonal changes of light and dark in their Arctic home. This forced a bigger constraint on any supplies of food they might have and limited how big they could grow. They evolved into smaller creatures so they could survive where they lived. With the brand new fossil discovery, it has revealed that a tiny cousin of the Tyrannosaurus rex once journeyed around the Arctic. This new tyrannosaur has been given the name Nanuqsaurus hoglundi and had a skull which was between the size of 23 and 27 inches long when fully grown.
By Kimberly Ruble