News / Science & Technology

Evidence of New Meat-eating Dinosaur Discovered in Utah

Artist rendering of the Siats meekerorum in its habitat. (North Carolina State University)
Artist rendering of the Siats meekerorum in its habitat. (North Carolina State University)
Rick Pantaleo
U.S. paleontologists say they’ve discovered a new species of meat-eating dinosaur that lived about 98 million years ago and dominated the early ancestors of fearsome predators such as the Tyrannosaurus Rex.

The newly discovered species, named Siats meekerorum after a cannibalistic man-eating monster from Native American tribal legend, is one of the three largest carnivorous dinosaurs ever found in North America. The largest of that group was the T-Rex, which came along about 30 million years after the Siats and weighed more than twice as much.

The North Carolina and Illinois researchers behind the discovery say this new species is a member of a group of gigantic meat-eaters called carcharodontosaurs, which include some of the largest predatory dinosaurs ever discovered.

Writing in Nature Communications, the researchers say they found the partial skeleton of the new predator in Utah’s Cedar Mountain Formation back in 2008.

Artist recreation of the giant predator dinosaur known as Siats meekerorum. (The Field Museum)Artist recreation of the giant predator dinosaur known as Siats meekerorum. (The Field Museum)
x
Artist recreation of the giant predator dinosaur known as Siats meekerorum. (The Field Museum)
Artist recreation of the giant predator dinosaur known as Siats meekerorum. (The Field Museum)
“It’s been 63 years since a predator of this size has been named from North America,” said Lindsay Zanno, a North Carolina State University paleontologist and lead author of the paper. “You can’t imagine how thrilled we were to see the bones of this behemoth poking out of the hillside.”

The remains found by Zanno and research partner Peter Makovicky, from Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History, were of a youngster that was more than 9 meters long and weighed about 3,630 kg.  They theorize that an adult of the species may have been about 12 meters long and weighed about 6,200 kg.

The Siats dinosaur lived during the Late Cretaceous period in lush surroundings with large amounts of vegetation and water, which supported a variety of animal life such as plant-eating dinosaurs, turtles, crocodiles, and giant lungfish. Until this discovery, scientists didn’t know what species was the top carnivore in North America at that time.

“Carcharodontosaurs reigned for much longer in North America than we expected,” said Zanno.  

The discovery has filled a 30-million-year gap in the fossil record, when the role of the top predator went from Siats and other carcharodontosaurs in the early Cretaceous period, to species of tyrannosaurs in the late Cretaceous period.

That gap in the fossil record had paleontologists unsure of when tyrannosaurs took over the title of top predator and whether it was because they overpowered the carcharodontosaurs or simply took over after the carcharodontosaurs became extinct.   

The  scientists said their research has made it clear that the large size of the Siats meekerorum would have kept the smaller species of tyrannosaurs from besting them.

“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,” says Makovicky.

“Contemporary tyrannosaurs would have been no more than a nuisance to Siats, like jackals at a lion kill. It wasn’t until carcharodontosaurs bowed out that the stage could be set for the evolution of T. rex,” said Zanno.

You May Like

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

1 Billion People Used Facebook on Single Day

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg praised the accomplishment in a posting on the social media site More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Vladimir from: Russia
November 27, 2013 2:29 PM
Can it be possible that birds like seagull coud be flying in the background of the picture: Siats meekerorum in its habitat. (North Carolina State University).

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs