Thursday, May 8, 2014

Paleontologists Announce Discovery of “Pinocchio Rex”

A study published today in Nature Communications reveals the discovery of Qianzhousaurus sinensis, a long-snouted “cousin” of T-rex who stalked the Earth 66 million years ago and likely lived in constant embarrassment over his nose-to-arm ratio.

Nicknamed “Pinocchio Rex”, the funny-looking sharptooth lived in the Late Cretaceous and lacked some of the fearsome power of his famous cousin. Steve Brusatte, a paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh and researcher on the study, explained to LiveScience that although Qianzhousaurus sinensis could in some ways be considered an apex predator, it wouldn’t have been able to “crunch through bone” like a regular Rex.

Brusatte and his team discovered Pinocchio’s partial remains at a construction site in southeastern China. The specimen indicates that Pinocchio had a long, crocodile-like horned snout with a toothy grin, weighed slightly under a ton, and was 25-30 feet long. So definitely not a li’l guy, but also not a hulking behemoth like his royal relatives.

Thomas Holt, a paleontologist who helped review the paper says:

It’s a cool specimen [...]It helps show that tyrannosaurs were pretty diverse and weren’t all the big bruisers that Tyrannosaurus or Tarbosaurus were.

National Geographic reports that the specimen is the second of only two long-snouted dinosaurs in the Alioramus genus to be discovered (both in Mongolia), and Brusatte says it’s “unequivocal” that the fossil represents an entirely unknown breed of tyrannosaurs.

Pinocchio is currently being housed at China’s Ganzhou Museum where, ironically, at least part of him may be held up by strings. Or screws. Point is: he’s getting some help.

(via National Geographic and LiveScience, image via abakedcreation)

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