The forefather of the mighty Tyrannosaurus
rex was discovered during work which was carried out in
2005. The 160 million year-old fossil found by the team was the
oldest tyrannosaur found to date.
The researchers were surprised to learn that
the three metre-long dinosaur sported a spectacular crest on
its head which may have been brightly coloured. It was thought
that the discovery, which was unveiled in the journal Nature,
may have been able to reveal how early tyrannosaurs evolved
into the T rex of 100 million years later.
The new species was found in the Junggar Basin,
an area which had been discovered to be rich in dinosaur fossils,
located in the far north-western corner of China.
A local labourer who had been hired to search
for ancient bones happened upon two dinosaur skeletons: a twelve
year-old adult and a six-year-old juvenile. Both were found to
be remarkably intact. The international team which took on the
work of extracting and identifying the fossils named the dinosaur,
which hails from the Late Jurassic period, Guanlong wucaii,
which was derived from the Chinese for 'crowned dragon'.
Professor James Clark, an author on the paper
and a palaeontologist at George Washington University, US,
described the discovery: 'We found two skeletons of a therapod
dinosaur. When we looked at them very closely we found that they
were a relative of Tyrannosaurus rex, making them the most
primitive tyrannosaur relatives that we have seen.
Tyrannosaurs were the dominant group of predators
during the Late Cretaceous period. This era, between about 65 to
100 million years ago, marked the final chapter of dinosaur dominance
before the great extinction of 65 million years ago.
It was during this time that T rex roamed.
The most famed member of the tyrannosaur family; its immense size
of nine to thirteen metres, huge teeth, and tiny but savagely
clawed forearms have made it the beast of choice for many Hollywood
The Guanlong family tree, showing its relationship to the
later-known members of the tyrannosaur family
- The Guanlong lies at the base of the
lineage of tyrannosaurides
- The Eotyrannus was dwarfed by other
predators in its environment
- The T rex was a member of the