IN MONTANA, A BABY TYRANNOSAUR FOSSIL MAY HAVE BEEN UNEARTHED

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The life history of Tyrannosaurus rex is a subject of curiosity. Dinosaur fossil investigation may enlighten us. Researchers have discovered a new fossil in Montana’ and Paleontologists predict that the specimen resembles a young Tyrannosaurus rex dinosaur.

The fossil is estimated to be 66.5 million years old and consists of a complete section of the upper jaw. It also has partial skull, foot, hips, and backbones. But it is still a mystery whether it is a species of smaller meat-eating dinosaur or actually a T. rex. There were some other fossils found in Montana and now some estimates all previously found fossils represent different growth stages of Tyrannosaurus rex. So it is not a good idea to classify them as a different species. This uncertainity should be eliminated thanks to paleontologists efforts.

A vertebrate paleontologist from University of Kansas, David, said: “The teeth suggest that it’s a Tyrannosaurus rex; however, there is still more work to be done,” He also added: “Because a young T. rex is so rare, there are only a few that have been found over the years, so it’s difficult to discern what are changes due to growth or if the differences in the bones reflect different species. Fortunately, KU has an older T. rex to compare with and another young T. rex on loan to help decipher this problem.”

One possibility is that the specimen is a Nanotyrannus dinosaur whose identity itself is a subject of controversy. Nanotyrannus is either a separate carnivorous dinosaur species or a kind of relative of the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex.  One such fossil was reportedly discovered in Hell Creek Formation before.

“Confusing the issue here is age,” said Burnham. “Ontogeny, that’s the process of growth and during that process, we change. Adult dinosaur bones, especially in the skull, don’t look the same as their younger selves. So, if someone finds a baby or juvenile fossil they may think it’s a new species, but we have to be careful since it may represent a younger growth stage of an existing species. It’s reasonable to assume Nanotyrannus could be valid – but we must show it’s not just a stage in the life history of T. rex.”

In search of more bones, researchers are planning to visit Hell Creek Formation and already they are currently working on the newfound fossil. They are hoping to put an end to this controversy, with more fossil record and examination, and it is their responsibility to give the fossil rightful place in the family tree of theropod dinosaurs.

“We are going to go back out this summer – we’re going right to that spot. We think and hope there’s more there,” said Burnham. “With the specimens here at KU, we’ll be able to address the issue and make a declarative statement about Nanotyrannus.”

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