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New species of winged dinosaur which lived 166m years ago found in Scotland

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SCIENTISTS have unearthed a new dinosaur species they say was a “sister” to T. rex and the closest relative ever linked to the tyrant lizard king.

Tyrannosaurus mcraeensis was discovered after re-analysis of a skull fragment dug up in New Mexico, USA, in 1984.

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A new species of pterosaur has been discovered on the Isle of SkyeCredit: PA
The remains were uncovered in 2006 in Elgol, Skye

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The remains were uncovered in 2006 in Elgol, SkyeCredit: SWNS

It was originally thought to be Tyrannosaurus rex but subtle differences in its bone structure show it is distinct from the Jurassic Park killer.

Writing in the journal Scientific Reports, experts explained it had a narrower jaw and likely smaller head than its later cousin.

A team led by Dr Nick Longrich, from the University of Bath, said: “The jaw is a bit more slender so it had a slightly lower bite force, but it was still a dangerous animal.

“It was an apex predator like T. rex and would have been at the top of the food chain and by far the largest carnivore in the ecosystem. 

“It probably preyed on a range of animals such as duckbills, ceratopsians and possibly even titanosaurs.

“The skull was probably not quite as massive as a T. rex, which seems to develop a more powerful bite that allowed it to kill and dismember large animals.”

The beast lived an estimated seven million years before T. rex, between 71 and 73 million years ago in the Cretaceous period.

It extends the legendary carnivores’ reign of terror as it grew to the same monstrous size, reaching up to 40ft long, 12ft tall and weighing 10 tonnes.

T. rex is widely considered to be the biggest and most dangerous land predator of all time.

They dominated the Earth for millions of years and their six-tonne bone-crunching bite is the strongest ever known to science.

Dr Longrich said the new research also changes the understanding of where tyrannosaurs evolved.

He added: “It suggests that southern North America was the epicenter of tyrannosaur evolution, and from here they moved into the northern parts of the continent and ultimately on into Asia.”

Why did the dinosaurs die out?

Here’s what you need to know…

  • The dinosaur wipe-out was a sudden mass extinction event on Earth
  • It wiped out roughly three-quarters of our planet’s plant and animal species around 66million years ago
  • This event marked the end of the Cretaceous period, and opened the Cenozoic Era, which we’re still in today
  • Scientists generally believe that a massive comet or asteroid around 9 miles wide crashed into Earth, devastating the planet
  • This impact is said to have sparked a lingering “impact winter”, severely harming plant life and the food chain that relied on it
  • More recent research suggests that this impact “ignited” major volcanic activity, which also led to the wiping-out of life
  • Some research has suggested that dinosaur numbers were already declining due to climate changes at the time
  • But a study published in March 2019 claims that dinosaurs were likely “thriving” before the extinction event

“It’s appearance in the Middle Jurassic of the UK was a ­complete surprise.

“It shows the advanced group to which it belongs appeared earlier than we thought and quickly gained an almost worldwide distribution.”

The first part of the new name comes from the Scottish gaelic word “cheo”, meaning mist or fog, and the Latin word “ptera”, meaning wing.

The second part — evansae — honours the work of palaeontologist Professor Susan E Evans, particularly on the Isle of Skye.

Only parts of the creature's shoulders, wings, legs and backbone remain

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Only parts of the creature’s shoulders, wings, legs and backbone remainCredit: PA
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