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

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid