Feeds

Behold, the TITCHY T-REX that prowled the warm Arctic of long ago

Runty monster was a paltry 25 feet long, got sand kicked in face by other dinos

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Paleontologists have discovered the head of a new pigmy breed of Tyrannosaurus rex that roamed the Arctic more than 70 million years ago.

The remains of Nanuqsaurus hoglundi, or polar bear lizard, were dug up in 2006, but it is only now that a team from the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Texas has managed to identify it as a new species.

"The 'pygmy tyrannosaur' alone is really cool because it tells us something about what the environment was like in the ancient Arctic," said Anthony Fiorillo, who co-authored a paper in PLOS One on the new find.

"But what makes this discovery even more exciting is that Nanuqsaurus hoglundi also tells us about the biological richness of the ancient polar world during a time when the Earth was very warm compared to today."

Calling Nanuqsaurus hoglundi a pigmy is a bit of an understatement, however. The dinosaur was about 25 feet long and weighed 1,000lb, compared to its larger, sub-tropic cousin that averaged around 40 feet long and four tons.

Illustration of dinos side by side to compare sizes

Jurassic art ... How the dinos compare: A. Nanuqsaurus hoglundi. B and C. Two different Tyrannosaurus rex. D. Daspletosaurus torosus. E. Albertosaurus sarcophagus. F. Troodon formosus. G. Troodon sp. Scale bar equals 1 metre. (Click to enlarge. Source)

At first it was thought that the find was a juvenile T-Rex, but the bone formation indicated that the dinosaur was fully mature at the time of its death. The paleontologists posit that the diminutive dino evolved to suit the unusual meteorological conditions in the Arctic and the effects of Foster's rule, which states that limited geographies like islands have major effects on animal development.

Back when Nanuqsaurus hoglundi roamed the Arctic, the temperatures were much warmer than today, but there are long periods of darkness during the winter months, due to the northern latitude, which would have suited a smaller animal.

Foster's rule comes into play because the area where the dinosaur was found was a small section of land cut off from the wider continent by a large mountain range, meaning the tyrannosaur breed had a lot less choice of what to chomp.

"The North Slope was isolated by the Brooks Range, and with it being dark half the year, there probably wasn't a lot of food up there. Over time it would have become more advantageous for the Nanuqsaurus hoglundi to have a smaller body size," the study [PDF] states.

Foster's rule certainly throws up some biological oddities. For example, wooly mammoths trapped on Wrangel Island off the north coast of Russia by rising sea levels shrunk down to the size of large cows before becoming extinct about 4,000 years ago.

The team has now returned to the quarry where the titchy T-Rex fossil was found and extracted another six tons of rock, which will be carefully taken apart to see if more evidence of the Arctic predator can be found.

"We're at the tip of the iceberg, to use a pun, as far as our exploration goes of the polar region," said Fiorillo. "There's still a lot of work to do, and that's something to which we very much look forward." ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?