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New killer dinosaur species found in Utah


A visitor looks at a the skull of a Tyrannosaurus rex at the all-new 14,000 square foot Dinosaur Hall permanent exhibition at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles July 7, 2011.


Robyn Beck

Scientists have found a new carnivorous dinosaur species in Utah, a tremendous beast that may have competed with the world-famous Tyrannosaurus Rex for survival. 

Tyrannosaurus Rex may be the most popular flesh-eating dinosaur, but there were other impressive contender — such as the newly identified Siats meekerorum, a member of the same flesh-eating family as T-Rex, although not a close relation. It is the largest predatory dinosaur to be identified and named in North America in 63 years. 

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Siats meekerorum last walked the earth around 100 million years ago, meaning that it existed during a transitional period when T-Rex was not the dominant saurian predator, according to a press release from the Field Museum in Chicago. 

Findings published in Nature Communications indicate that Siats meekerorum was the dominant predator in Cretaceous North America, and competed with small-bodied relatives of T-Rex for the same resources. 

“The huge size difference certainly suggests that tyrannosaurs were held in check by carcharodontosaurs, and only evolved into enormous apex predators after the carcharodontosaurs disappeared,” said Chicago Field Museum of Natural History researc Peter Makovicky, in a release from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. 

The discovery of this species in North America also indicates that gigantic, meat-eating dinosaurs were considerably more mobile than previously believed. 

“This is the first evidence that these animals existed in North America,” said Pete Makovicky, Curator of Dinosaurs at The Field Museum in a press release.

“Until a few years ago, these dinosaurs were not known from northern continents, so we thought that the dinosaurs that roamed northern continents were distinct from those that lived on southern ones due to continental drift. As it turns out, finding closely related dinosaurs on multiple continents suggests that these animals were better able to cross barriers like spreading oceans than we previously thought.”