'Jurassic Park' villain's tiny ancestor found

'Jurassic Park' villain's tiny ancestor found

Raptorex kriegsteini is only 3 metres long and has a body mass of 65 kg

Discovered: This undated handout illustration provided by the Science journal shows a Raptorex. AP

Scientists have now unearthed the fossil of a tiny cousin of the enormous beast in Mongolia. The miniature-sized ancestor of the mighty monster came to the earth almost 60 million years ago before the T.rex. It existed in north eastern China 125 million years ago. Typically tyrannosaurus height ranged from 6-12 mt  and a body weight varied between 2500 to 6000 kg. The new find, Raptorex kriegsteini, on the contrary is only 3 mt long and has a body mass of mere 65 kg – same as an average human being.

T. rex is known for its distinguishing physical traits like an oversized skull with powerful jaws, tiny forearms and the muscular hind legs of a runner. It is also the most ferocious animal evolved on the earth. The Raptorex displays all the hallmarks of its famous descendant including a large head compared to its torso, tiny arms and lanky feet well-suited for running. It is also believed to be equally ferocious. Raptorex remains show that tyrannosaur design evolved at “punk size”.

Researchers said Raptorex increased its body mass by 90 times to develop into its most famous carnivorous descendant. “The increase is bodyweight is pretty staggering, because there’s no other example where an animal has been so finely designed at about 100th the size that it would eventually become,” Paul Sereno from the University of Chicago who led the team of team of dino-hunters, told the Science journal.

He estimated that it died when it was a young adult. Asked by Deccan Herald on whether the fossil analysis can provide any hints towards the predator’s social behaviour, Sereno said, “What we can infer from the bones is that it was a pursuit predator probably hunting alone. It was feathered rather than scaled.” Examination of skull, teeth, nose, spine, shoulders, forearms, pelvis, and hind legs of the new fossil, showed the new fossil’s striking similarities with T. rex. Also it has an enlarged olfactory bulb, as in T. rex, indicating a highly developed sense of smell.

T. rex dominated the predatory ecology in both Asia and North America until the great extinction 65 million years ago at the end of the Cretaceous Period. Incidentally, six years back Sereno led a team which discovered another menacing dinosaur Rajasaurus narmadensis from India. But, there is no family link between Raptorex and Rajasaurus.