Oldest T Rex relative identified
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Posted 04 November 2009 - 08:07 AM
Scientists have identified the most ancient fossil relative of the predatory dinosaur Tyrannosaurus rex. The new addition to T. rex's clan is known from a 30cm-long skull uncovered during excavations in Gloucestershire in the 1900s.
The well-preserved fossil is now held in London's Natural History Museum. A British-German team has now uncovered evidence linking it to what may be the most famous dinosaur family of all.
The dinosaur, named Proceratosaurus, lived about 165m years ago, during the middle Jurassic Period. The two-legged, meat-eater would have measured about 3m long and weighed up to 50 or 60kg.
The palaeontologists used computed tomography (CT) techniques to generate a 3D image of the delicate skull to investigate its internal structure in meticulous detail.
Dr Angela Milner, associate keeper of palaeontology at the Natural History Museum, told BBC News: "This is a unique specimen. It is the only one of its kind known in the world."
She added: "It was quite a surprise when our analysis showed we had the oldest known relative of T. rex.
"Fossils collected a century ago can now be studied again with the benefit of much greater knowledge of dinosaurs from around the world."
Originally described in 1910 as a new species of Megalosaurus, the fossil was presented to the museum in 1942.
The skull was unearthed during excavations for a reservoir close to Minchinhampton in Gloucestershire.
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