A new species of tyrannosaur has been discovered and given the nickname Pinocchio Rex. It was uncovered in southern China and is scientifically named Qianzhousaurus sinensis. The nickname stems from the fact that the animal, even though it is in the same family as Tyrannosaurus rex, had an elongated, slender snout with narrow teeth. There have only been two other tyrannosaur fossils found which have the same extended facial features, leaving scientists uncertain if they were juvenile dinosaurs or if they were a representation of another class. Now, with the discovery of this almost complete skeleton, there is unequivocal evidence that a long-nosed tyrannosaur existed and can now be named as a separate species.
The newly discovered dinosaur species measured about 29 feet in length and weighed in the neighborhood of 1,800 pounds, making it a lot shorter and lighter than T. rex. According to studies released this May, both the animals lived during the Cretaceous period. The Cretaceous time period, approximately 66 million years ago, was just before the mass extinction of all the dinosaurs. During this time, the climate was warm and the sea levels were high. There were many shallow seas inland, which created the chalk deposits after which this period was named.
The Pinocchio Rex dinosaur was discovered in China in the southern city of Ganzhou. The fossil was found during work on a construction site. In fact, the scientific name given to it, Qianzhousaurus sinensis was inspired by the location of the discovery as an ancient name for Ganzhou is Qianzhou. The previous two tyrannosaurid fossils with long snouts were found in Mongolia. This Asian member of the tyrannosaur family was found well preserved and mostly intact. The unique preservation was due to the fact that the creature became buried in dirt soon after its demise and was therefore protected from the erosion which occurs from both the air and water. The skull of Qianzhousaurus was found totally fused and other than its difference in facial elongation, it resembles the skull of a mature T. rex.
Scientists are currently discussing the possible reasons behind the long, narrow jaw and teeth of the Pinocchio rex. One of the theories is that this unique feature allowed the animal to exist in a more harmonious way with the larger and more powerful T. rex. Because of the jaw and teeth differences, the two probably hunted different types of prey. While the newly discovered tyrannosaur would have been just as deadly as others, it may have been a bit stealthier and a little faster. It may have allowed the separate breeds to live in the same areas without needing to fight over the same prey.
While there have been few discoveries of long-snouted tyrannosaurids made to date, paleontologists project that more discoveries will be forthcoming. They believe that the animal was alive throughout Asia and could actually be a major line of predatory dinosaurs in the area. Qianzhousaurus sinensis, otherwise known as Pinocchio Rex, is the first fossil of an elongated-snout dinosaur to be discovered almost intact. The southern region in China in which it was discovered appears to be rich in fossils. This leads experts to expect that more examples of this long-snouted dinosaur will soon be unearthed.
By Dee Mueller
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