Feeds

Meet the FOUR-TON DINO that made little Tyrannosaurs SOIL THEMSELVES

Siats meekerorum - APEX predator

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Before the T. rex held the world in the palm of his tiny, tiny clawed hands, another newly discovered dinosaur was terrorising the planet 98 million years ago.

Siats eating an iguanodontian and intimidating early, small-bodied tyrannosauroids.

Siats chows down on some iguanodontian and scares the crap out of puny tyrannosauroids. Credit: Julio Lacerda, Lindsay Zanno

The giant monster, which was over 30 feet long and weighed more than four tons, is the first of its kind to be discovered in North America.

"This dinosaur was a colossal predator second only to the great T. rex and perhaps Acrocanthosaurus in the North American fossil record," said Lindsay Zanno, lead author on the paper and director of paleontology at North Carolina State University.

Zanno and her colleagues at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and The Field Museum have named the dinosaur Siats meekerorum, referencing a cannibalistic monster from the mythology of the Ute Native American people and the Meeker family, who supported early palaeontologists at The Field Museum.

The bones of the mighty beast were discovered in 2008 by Zanno as part of a Field Museum expedition to 100-million-year-old rocks in the Cedar Mountain Formation in Utah and then dug out in a massive project over the next two summers.

Although it's in the same size bracket as T. rex and other tyrannosaurs, the dinosaur belongs to the carchardontosaurian group of theropods, whose more famous members include the Giganotosaurus.

The specimen comes from the middle of a 30-million-year gap in the fossil record of large North American predatory dinosaurs, when the position of top of the food chain passed from carcharodontosaurians to tyrannosaurs. Because of the lack of physical remains, paleoboffins have been unsure about when exactly this change occurred and if tyrannosaurus outcompeted the earlier dinosaurs or if the carcharodontosaurs went extinct.

Excavations in the Cedar Mountain Formation have thrown up tyrannosaur teeth that indicate that the ones living alongside Siats were puny in comparison and didn't have a hope of taking the apex predator spot.

"The huge size difference certainly suggests that tyrannosaurs were held in check by carcharodontosaurs, and only evolved into enormous apex predators after the carcharodontosaurs disappeared," said Peter Makovicky, study co-author and Curator of Dinosaurs at the Field Museum.

Siats tells scientists that carcharodontosaurians reigned in America for much longer than they previously thought, a discovery that the team reckons is only the beginning for excavations from these mountains.

"Siats is just the tip of the iceberg; our teams are unearthing a lost dinosaurian ecosystem right here in the badlands of western North America," Zanno said.

The full study, "Neovenatorid theropods are apex predators in the Late Cretaceous of North America", was published in Nature Communications.

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.