Modest dinosaur dubbed 'harbinger of doom' set stage for T. rex
By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - No one would ever look at the huge and ferocious Tyrannosaurus rex as an underdog. But its newly discovered evolutionary great uncle certainly was.
By Will Dunham
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - No one would ever look at the huge and ferocious Tyrannosaurus rex as an underdog. But its newly discovered evolutionary great uncle certainly was.
Scientists on Thursday said they have unearthed in central Utah fossils of a relatively small, fleet-footed, lightly built forerunner to T. rex that lived 96 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period. Named Moros intrepidus, it was roughly 10 feet (3 meters) long and weighed 170 pounds (78 kg).
It was given that name, which means "harbinger of doom," because Moros was a member of the same dinosaur lineage - the tyrannosaurs - and foreshadowed the arrival of the roughly 13-meter-long (42-foot-long) T. rex, seven tons of carnivorous grandeur, some 30 million years later.
At the time of Moros, tyrannosaurs had not yet emerged as colossal apex predators. Moros was overshadowed in its warm, lush environment by a much-larger dinosaur called Siats meekerorum, which reached about 39 feet (12 meters) long, weighed four tons and was a member of a group called allosaurs that for tens of millions of years represented North America's dominant land meat-eaters.
"In short, the story of Moros and Siats is like an evolutionary David and Goliath in which small tyrannosaurs survive through dramatic changes in landscape, through mountain building and sea level rise, whereas the giant Siats and its relatives perish from existence," North Carolina State University paleontologist Terry "Bucky" Gates said.
"In true ironic fashion, once the giant predators were out of the way, the small tyrannosaurs, typified by Moros, evolved to become the largest predators in North America," Gates added.
Tyrannosaurs first arose in Asia and later migrated to North America, but few fossils had been found to illustrate their development on the continent.
"Tyrannosaurs remained small, subsidiary hunters in Late Cretaceous ecosystems of North America until the extinction of allosaurs opened a window of opportunity for them to ascend to the top of the food chain," added paleontologist Lindsay Zanno of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and North Carolina State University, lead author of the research published in the journal Communications Biology.
The scientists found partial remains - leg bones and some associated teeth - of a Moros individual that was perhaps seven years old, almost fully grown. They did not discover feather fossils, but suspect Moros had feathers, as did many dinosaurs.
"If Moros stood beside you, its back would come up to your hip," Gates said. "Imagine a 10-foot-long Great Dane covered in feathers."
(Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Sandra Maler)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.