Meet the T. rex cousin who you could literally look down on

The new dinosaur is called Suskityrannus hazelae, named after the Zuni word for coyote

History’s most frightening dinosaur, the Tyrannosaurus rex, came from a long line of pipsqueaks.

Scientists have identified a new cousin of the T. rex as a dinosaur that only reached the 3-foot height of a toddler. If it stretched its duck-billed head, an adult human maybe “would be looking at it in the eye,” said Sterling Nesbitt, a paleontologist at Virginia Tech, who discovered the dinosaur.

READ MORE: TIMELINE: A look back at Science World ahead of its 30th anniversary

Nesbitt found a set of its bones in 1998 when he was 16, while serving as a volunteer on a dig in New Mexico with a famed paleontologist. But for about two decades, scientists weren’t certain what it was, until other small cousins of T. rex were discovered.

“The small group of tyrannosauroid dinosaurs would give rise to some of the biggest predators that we’ve ever seen,” said Nesbitt, lead author of a study in Monday’s journal Nature Ecology and Evolution .

The new dinosaur is called Suskityrannus hazelae, named after the Zuni word for coyote. It dates back 92 million years, about 20 million years before the T. rex stomped the Earth.

The newly discovered cousin — which was three times longer than it was tall — weighed between 45 and 90 pounds, almost nothing compared to the nine-ton king of the dinosaurs.

Suskityrannus hazalae isn’t the first or even smallest of the Tyrannosaurus family tree, but Nesbitt said it provides the best example of how this family of modest-sized dinosaurs evolved into the towering horror of movies, television shows and nightmares.

Smithsonian Institution paleobiologist Hans Sues, who wasn’t part of the study, said it was an important find. “Suskityrannus is the first really good record of the early tyrannosaurs in North America,” he wrote in an email.

It is unclear why these carnivores, which weren’t particularly big compared with other dinosaurs alive at that time, later evolved to be so enormous.

Nesbitt said the newly discovered species is probably among the last of the little guys. It was bigger than earlier tyrannosauroids and had big feet needed for speed — something the T. rex lost.

By Seth Borenstein, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

16-year-old Campbell River athlete heading to Cairo for volleyball championship

Emoni Bush of Wei Wai Kum First Nation to compete with Youth National Team

Striking Western Forest Products workers could lose benefits in September

Union, forest company at odds over Vancouver Island benefit payments as strike enters third month

Exhibit showcases work of veteran taxidermist on Cortes Island

Dozens of mounted animals on display at Wild Cortes

Stranded hikers rescued by helicopter on Mt. Schoen

Campbell River Search and Rescue used hoist operation to rescue trio

Fire chief urges residents to check smoke detectors following structure fires in Campbell River

Smoke alarms failed in three incidents, including fire that destroyed second storey of home: Doherty

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Forests minister visits B.C. town rocked by multiple mill shutdowns

A third of Mackenzie turns out for rally, not much to cheer about

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

B.C. music teacher accused of sexual misconduct involving girls

Police believe other victims could be out there after the arrest of Lamar Victor Alviar

B.C. family stranded in Croatia desperate to come home

Funds being raised to bring back mom and two children

$5-million lotto ticket sold in Nanaimo

Someone matched all six numbers in Wednesday’s 6/49 draw

Most Read