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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid