Preserved T-Rex Ancestor Fossil

on November 7, 2009
Featured in News to Know

What’s the cause for our sixth mention of T. rex in seven weeks? A new study of the famed dinosaur’s “most ancient fossil relative” that is “exquisitely” preserved.

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A fossil dinosaur known as Proceratosaurus has called the London Natural History Museum home since 1942, more than three decades after it was discovered in Gloucestershire. For years, the unique specimen was considered a species of Megalosaurus. Now, a team of British and German scientists has identified it as an “ancient” relative of T. rex.

“It was quite a surprise when our analysis showed we had the oldest known relative of T. rex.

The scientists used computed tomography (CT) scanning techniques to digitally build a 3-D model of the Proceratosaurus skull, allowing them to examine the skull’s internal structure. While Proceratosaurus and T. rex have important differences, the skull shows several important similarities, the team argues.

“If you look at the animal in detail, it has the same kinds of windows in the side of the skull for increasing the jaw muscles,” explained paleontologist Angela Milner of the museum. “It has the same kinds of teeth—particularly at the front of the jaws. They’re small teeth and almost banana-shaped, which are just the kind of teeth T. rex has.” Milner also explained that the Proceratosaurus skull includes numerous internal air spaces, another similarity to T. rex’s noggin.

“It was quite a surprise when our analysis showed we had the oldest known relative of T. rex.,” she added.

Coauthor Oliver Rauhut of the Bavarian State Collection for Palaeontology and Geology emphasized, “This is still one of the best-preserved dinosaur skulls found in Europe. It is really surprising that it has received so little attention since its original description.”

The team’s research showing the similarities of Proceratosaurus and T. rex is certainly interesting, especially in the use of CT technology to “see inside” the Proceratosaurus skull. But nothing other than evolutionary and old-earth presuppositions suggests that Proceratosaurus is an “ancient relative” of T. rex. From the creationist perspective, the two dinosaurs could be from two kinds that lived side-by-side or even members of the same theropod kind—all descended from the originally created dinosaur kinds.

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