New Theropod Dinosaur Revealed

A team of Polish palaeontologists have excavated the partial remains of a new type of carnivorous dinosaur, one that may turn out to be an ancient ancestor of the most famous dinosaur of all – Tyrannosaurus rex.

The palaeontologists were called in when construction workers in a brickyard in Lisowice, a small village in Legnica county 200 kilometres west of Warsaw, uncovered the bones of this animal and other ancient creatures dating back to the Early Jurassic.

The dinosaur has been nick-named “Dragon” whilst further research and study is undertaken to try to classify this animal, a formal name and description will be published once this work has been completed.  Giving prehistoric animal pet names whilst they are being excavated and prepared is quite a common practice, all the fossils will have been recorded and given a specific registration code to assist with identification and study but amongst palaeontologists it is an accepted practice to give their finds nick-names.

The scientists estimate that this bipedal, meat-eater was approximately 5 metres long and it would have been one of the top predators around in this area 200 million years ago (Hettangian (Jurassic) to Rhaetian (Triassic) faunal stages).

Little is known about the evolution of Theropod dinosaurs and remains from the Jurassic/Triassic border are exceptionally rare.  It is hoped that this new discovery will reveal more information about the evolution and development of this particular group of dinosaurs.

The Dentary Bone of this New Rare Dinosaur

Picture Credit: Polish Academy of Science/Reuters

Note: Polish palaeontologist Tomasz Sulej showing the lower jawbone of as yet unnamed dinosaur at the Polish Academy of Science in Warsaw.

Commenting on the discovery, Sulej said:

“This is a completely new type of dinosaur that was so far unknown.  Nobody even expected that members of this group lived in that time, so this gives us new knowledge about the whole evolution of the T. rex group”.

The scientists will continue examining the bones and fully document the discovery and the other items found in association with this animal.  Their discoveries will be put on temporary display in Lisowice village before being added to the Polish Academy of Science’s collection.  The fossils of a large, Triassic Dicynodont were also found, the Polish team have speculated that these herbivorous, mammal-like reptiles were the prey of the newly discovered dinosaur.  By the late Triassic the Dicynodonts were becoming increasingly rare, the group had not recovered from the mass extinction that ended the Permian period.

The jaw is relatively thin, but from the evidence presented in the notes that Everything Dinosaur team members have read, it is not possible to determine whether it is representative of Ceratosauria such as Dilophosaurus, Coelophysoidea such as Liliensternus or a member of the Tetanurae (stiff tails).  When the formal papers are published this issue will be cleared up.

During the Early Jurassic the fossil record shows that there was a sudden expansion of different types of meat-eating dinosaur.  This may be due to the rapid evolution and diversification of the plant-eating dinosaurs, the more types of prey there are, the more kinds of predator evolved to hunt them.  During this period the super-continent of Pangaea begun to break up, isolating groups of animals and providing new environments for the fauna and flora to exploit.

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