"Long before it's in the papers"
January 27, 2015


Long-snouted T. rex cousin reported found

May 7, 2014
Courtesy of University of Edinburgh 
and World Science staff

A newfound fos­sil re­veals a beast that like a cross be­tween Ty­ran­no­saur­us rex and Don­ald Duck—but it’s firmly in the di­no­saur family that in­cludes T. rex, sci­en­tists say.

“This is a dif­fer­ent breed of ty­ran­no­saur. It has the fa­mil­iar toothy grin of T. rex, but its snout was much long­er and it had a row of horns on its nose. 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,” said Steve Bru­satte, of the Uni­vers­ity of Ed­in­burgh’s School of Geo­Sci­ences, one of the re­search­ers in­volved with the find.

Artist's con­cep­tion of two Q. sinen­sis hunt­ing. The one in the fore­ground is chas­ing a small feath­ered di­no­saur called Nankan­gia and the one in the back­ground is eat­ing a liz­ard. Fos­sils of all three are known from the about 72-66 million-year-old site in Ganzhou, Chi­na. (Credit: Chuang Zhao)

“The long-snouted ty­ran­no­saurs were ap­par­ently one of the main groups of pred­a­to­ry di­no­saurs in Asia,” added Jun­chang Lü, of the In­sti­tute of Ge­ol­o­gy at the Chin­ese Acad­e­my of Ge­o­log­i­cal Sci­ences, anoth­er of the col­la­bo­ra­tors.

Sci­en­tists said the new­found spe­cies, nick­named “Pin­oc­chio rex,” stalked the Earth and had a long­er skull and long­er, nar­rower teeth than T. rex, with its deeper, more pow­er­ful jaws and thick teeth. 

Both spe­cies died out an es­ti­mat­ed 66 mil­lion years ago when all of the di­no­saurs be­came ex­tinct as a re­sult, many sci­en­tists think, of a as­ter­oid im­pact.

The skull of Q. sinen­sis (up­per jaw in left lat­er­al view and low­er jaw in re­versed right lat­er­al view). (Cred­it: Jun­chang Lu)

Palaeon­tol­o­gists weren’t sure wheth­er a line­age of long-snout­ed ty­ran­no­saurs ex­isted un­til the fos­sil di­no­saur – named Qianz­hou­saur­us sin­en­sis – was un­earthed in south­ern Chi­na. Two long-snouted spec­i­mens had turned up be­fore, but were ju­ve­niles so it was un­clear wheth­er the long-snout­ed­ness might have been tem­po­rary. The new spec­i­men is de­scribed as a re­markably well-pre­served, near-adult.

The find­ings are pub­lished in the jour­nal Na­ture Com­mu­nica­t­ions.

Ex­perts say Q. sinen­sis lived along­side deep-snout­ed ty­ran­no­saurs but would not have com­pet­ed di­rectly with them, as they probably hunt­ed dif­fer­ent prey. Fol­low­ing the find, re­search­ers have cre­at­ed a new branch of the ty­ran­no­saur family for spec­i­mens with very long snouts, and they ex­pect more di­no­saurs to be added to the group as ex­cava­t­ions in Asia con­tin­ue.

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A newly discovered fossil reveals a beast that like a cross between Tyrannosaurus rex and Donald Duck—but it’s in the dinosaur family that includes T. rex, scientists say. “This is a different breed of tyrannosaur. It has the familiar toothy grin of T. rex, but its snout was much longer and it had a row of horns on its nose. 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,” said Steve Brusatte, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, another of the collaborators. “The long-snouted tyrannosaurs were apparently one of the main groups of predatory dinosaurs in Asia,” added Junchang Lü, of the Institute of Geology at the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences, one of the researchers involved with the find. Scientists said the newfound species, nicknamed Pinocchio rex, stalked the Earth and had a longer skull and longer, narrower teeth than T. rex, with its deeper, more powerful jaws and thick teeth. Both species died out an estimated 66 million years ago when all of the dinosaurs became extinct as a result, many scientists think, of a asteroid impact. Palaeontologists were unsure whether a lineage of long-snouted tyrannosaurs existed until the fossil dinosaur – named Qianzhousaurus sinensis – was unearthed in southern China. Until now, only two long-snouted specimens had turned up, but both were juveniles so it was unclear whether the long-snoutedness might have been a temporary stage. The remarkably well-preserved new specimen is described as a near-adult. The findings are published in the journal Nature Communications. Experts say Qianzhousaurus sinensis lived alongside deep-snouted tyrannosaurs but would not have competed directly with them, as they were larger and probably hunted different prey. Following the find, researchers have created a new branch of the tyrannosaur family for specimens with very long snouts, and they expect more dinosaurs to be added to the group as excavations in Asia continue.