Fossil of Small Tyrannosaur Species Found in Alaska

Posted on March 12, 2014

Nanuqsaurus hoglundi illustration

Paleontologists have discovered the fossil of a small tyrannosaur species in Northern Alaska. The species was about half the size of a T. rex. The discovery was led by researchers from the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas. The dinosaur has been named Nanuqsaurus hoglundi after the native Inupiat people of the region and Forrest Hoglund of Dallas, who raised millions to build the Perot Museum

The researchers say the new new tyrannosaurine species is closely related to two other tyrannosaurides, Tarbosaurus and Tyrannosaurus. It has an estimated adult skull length of 25 inches, which is less than half the size of T. rex's 60-inch skull size. The dinosaur inhabited a seasonally extreme, high-latitude continental environment on the northernmost edge of Cretaceous North America.

A research paper on the new species was published here in PLoS One by Anthony Fiorillo and Ronald S. Tykoski from Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Texas, and colleagues.

Fiorillo says in a statement, "The 'pygmy tyrannosaur' alone is really cool because it tells us something about what the environment was like in the ancient Arctic. But what makes this discovery even more exciting is that Nanuqsaurus hoglundi also tells us about the biological richness of the ancient polar world during a time when the Earth was very warm compared to today."

The image below is a size comparison of Nanuqsaurus hoglundi to other theropods. Nanuqsaurus hoglundi is the blue dinosaur labeled A, while B and C are based on different T. Rex fossil finds. You can see a larger version of the diagram here in PLoS One.

Nanuqsaurus hoglundi compared to T. Rex

Top Image: Illustration by Karen Carr

Second Image: Anthony R. Fiorillo, Ronald S. Tykoski, et. al.

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