New Dinosaur Species Found in Utah Was a Tyrannosaurus Rival
Meet the rex wrecker, a 3-ton competitor to tyrannosaurs who stoked a family rivalry over millions of years in western North America.
The fossil find in central Utah, dubbed Siats meekerorum, was from the Allosauroid family, weighed around 3 tons, was as long as a boxcar and roamed what now is the intermountain West of the United States around 98 million years ago, according to a study of the find published online Friday in the journal Nature Communications.
S. meekerorum probably competed alongside members of the tyrannosauroid mega-family before it faded away, opening up the evolutionary niche that allowed for new, massive species including Tyrannosaurus rex, the authors suggest.
The novel genus and species helps fill part of a 70-million-year gap in dinosaur history during the late Cretaceous period, a crucial time of local environmental change spurred by an encroaching inland sea that would eventually isolate what now is the western United States, according to North Carolina State University paleontologist Lindsay E. Zanno.
“This is a good case study in how ecosystems change over time, and honestly that’s very poignant for us,” said Zanno, who directs the paleontology laboratory at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh. “This is a time when we see temperatures rising, we see sea levels rising - there’s actually a shallow seaway encroaching onto the continent of North America at this time that will go on to divide North America into several island land masses in the late Cretaceous.