Tyrannosaurus rex, by name and nature, is the king of dinosaurs. However, millions of years before the “tyrant lizard king” stomped the Earth, another member of the tyrannosaurids ruled supreme, and it too has an awesome name: Dynamoterror dynastes.
A new study, published in the journal PeerJ, has described this newly-discovered beast using fossilized remains found in the San Juan Basin of New Mexico by a team led by palaeontologists Andrew McDonald and Douglas Wolfe. It’s estimated that Dynamoterror would have been about 9.1 meters (30 feet) from snout to tail, approximately 80 percent the size of a fully-grown T. rex.
It’s also among some of the earliest tyrannosaurids ever unearthed in North America. T. rex, lived some 68 to 66 million years ago, while other Tyrannosaurs have even been dated to 77 million years. These remains, however, are thought to date back as far as around 80 million years ago. Back when Dynamoterror dynastes roamed the land, this part of New Mexico was actually part of Laramidia, an island continent that existed during the Late Cretaceous period, and played host to multiple big predators of the Tyrannosaurinae and Albertosaurinae families.
“Although exceptionally rich, the tyrannosaurid record from Laramidia is temporally restricted to between approximately 77 million years ago and 66 million years ago, obscuring the earlier evolution of the group,” the study authors write. As such, they believe Dynamoterror could shed some light on how the tyrannosaurids evolved their notoriously large body size and established themselves as the top predators of the day.
Most of this beast’s remains were shattered, fragmented, and incomplete, making it fiendishly hard to study. However, the researchers were also in possession of a relatively well-preserved pair of frontal bones from the individual’s skull, allowing them to eventually identify it as a new species and a new genus.
They also used laser-scanning to create a composite 3D digital model of the dinosaur’s bones, which you can check out in all their glory right here.
Like many members of the Tyrannosaur family, the newly identified species share another feature: an intimidating name. It’s fairly well known that Tyrannosaurus means something to the effect of “tyrant lizard” in Greek (other awesome names include Diablosaurus; “devil horned face” and Stygimoloch; “demon from the river Styx”). The newly described species, Dynamoterror dynastes, loosely translates to mean “powerful terror ruler.” Bad. Ass.