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Introducing T. Rex’s Newest Cousin
September 14, 2022
With the Jurassic World trilogy grossing $1 billion at the box office, dinosaurs continue to fascinate mankind, especially iconic dinosaurs like the Tyrannosaurus Rex, or T. Rex. So dinosaur lovers were excited to learn that a new species of dinosaur has been classified as being similar to the famous T. Rex.
A group of paleontologists led by Juan Canale of the Ernesto Bachmann Paleontologica Museum found an almost complete skull and an entire articulated right arm of a genus of carcharodontosaurid theropod dinosaur in 2012 in Argentina. It is the most complete carcharodontosaurid from the Southern Hemisphere so far. Carcharodontosaurid refers to a group of carnivorous (meat-eating) theropod dinosaurs. In July of 2022, experts looked back at the findings and announced that the remains were those of a new species which they named Meraxes Gigas. Known as “M. Gigas” for short, its name derives from “Meraxes” in honor of a dragon in Game of Thrones and “Gigas” due to its enormous size.
Based on the remains, scientists believe the M. Gigas would have weighed four tons and died at about 45 years of age during the Late Cretaceous period. Its skull was decorated with bumps, ridges, grooves and small horns. Experts believe that these “ornaments” must have been a typical feature of adult members of the species and were probably a lure to attract potential partners. “Sexual selection is a powerful evolutionary force. But since we can’t directly observe its behavior, it is impossible to be certain about it,” Canale said of his hypothesis.
The M. Gigas was shown to have small arms similar to those of the T. Rex. With the fully articulated arm of the M. Gigas found, scientists can better understand the size and what the dinosaur used its arms for. So how can it be that both dinosaurs, Tyrannosaurus Rex and Meraxes Gigas, share a characteristic so rare in other species?
“According to the researchers’ findings, published in Current Biology, the creature’s small forelimbs were no evolutionary accident, but rather gave apex predators of the time certain survival advantages,” scientist Kyla Guilfoil noted on ABC News. University of Minnesota paleontologist and study co-author Pete Makovicky also studied the arm bones and said, “Despite their powerful appearance, it’s hard to imagine they were used much as they barely extended beyond the body and could not have reached the huge mouth.”
As of now no other remains of the M. Gigas have been found. Since the very first fossils of the M. Gigas were found in 2012, the skeleton has been examined and prepared by paleontologists, so none of the remains have yet to be put on display.
Virginians might be surprised to learn that Virginia is the number 10 state based on dinosaur fossil finds.
For information about what kinds of dinosaur and prehistoric fossils can be found in Virginia, check out this site: