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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed 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.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs