Thursday, May 8, 2014

A long-snouted tyrannosaur nicknamed 'Pinocchio rex' has been found in China

We’re telling the truth, honest.

A new species of dinosaur nicknamed “Pinocchio rex” has been unearthed in China.

The long-snouted tyrannosaur, whose formal name is Qianzhousaurus sinensis, is a smaller but no less fearsome cousin of the infamous Tyrannosaurus rex, according to a study published in Nature Communications.

Chinese workers made the “one-in-a-million find” of the nearly complete skeleton on a construction site in the southern city of Ganzhou.

This is what scientists think Pinocchio probably looked like.

After examing the remains of the newfound dinosaur, experts from the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences and the University of Edinburgh concluded Pinocchio roamed Asia 66 million years ago during the late Cretaceous period, just before dinosaurs were snuffed out.

Scientists are very excited by the find. While everyone loves a predatory dinosaur discovery, this one is particularly significant: it confirms long-snouted tyrannosaurs existed.

Only two fossilized tyrannosaurs with long snouts have ever been found — both in Mongolia — but because they were juveniles scientists weren't sure if they were just regular tyrannosaurs that hadn't grown into their snouts or a new breed of dinosaur altogether.

"This is the slam dunk we needed: the long-snouted tyrannosaurs were real," said Dr Steve Brusatte of the University of Edinburgh.

While Pinocchio’s “comical” elongated skull, horny snout and long, narrow teeth meant it would have stood out at tyrannosaur family reunions, it was no less ferocious than its carnivorous relatives, the researchers said.

"It might have looked a little comical, but it would have been as deadly as any other tyrannosaur, and maybe even a little faster and stealthier,” Brusatte said.

At about 29 feet long and weighing some 1,800 pounds, Pinocchio was smaller than the 42-foot long T. rex, but it could still hold its own in the dinosaur world.

"You wouldn't want to run into either of these guys," said Brusatte, referring to Pinocchio and T. rex.

The reason for the dinosaur's long face remains a mystery, but scientists suspect the tyrannosaur used it to hunt smaller prey such as lizards and feathered dinosaurs.

It might also explain why Pinocchio was able to live side-by-side T. rex.

They weren’t in direct competition for food.

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