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‘Frightful’ never-before-seen tyrannosaur might be the ‘missing link’ in T. rex evolution

A reconstruction of what the new tyrannosaur, Daspletosaurus wilsoni, may have looked like. Fossils suggest that it had unique arrangement of spiked hornlets surrounding its eyes. (Image credit: Andrey Atuchin & Badlands Dinosaur Museum)

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Paleontologists have uncovered the remains of a never-before-seen tyrannosaur that was possibly a direct ancestor of the dinosaur king Tyrannosaurus rex. The newfound species could help settle a big debate about T. rex‘s evolutionary lineage.

The newfound species, Daspletosaurus wilsoni, has a unique arrangement of spiked hornlets around its eyes. The tyrannosaur was identified from parts of a fossilized skull and skeletal fragments, including a rib and toe bone, that date to about 76.5 million years ago during the Cretaceous period (145 million to 66 million years ago). Paleontologists from the Badlands Dinosaur Museum in North Dakota uncovered the fossils at the Judith River Formation, in northeastern Montana, between 2017 and 2021, according to a new study, published Nov. 25 in the journal Paleontology and Evolutionary Science (opens in new tab).

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