fossils

The tiny tyrant of Prince Creek

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Franz
Anthony

Editor and Artist
Nanuqsaurus hoglundi, the “polar bear lizard”, is barely two-thirds the size of Tyrannosaurus rex. It is the only tyrannosaur ever found outside temperate regions.

The discovery happened in Alaska’s North Slope back in 2006, when Anthony Fiorillo of the Perot Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, Texas, took a few basketball-size rocks back home.


The rocks were largely ignored at the Perot as Paleontologist Ron Tykoski was focused on the horned dinosaur Pachyrhinosaurus perotorum. Until the moment they realized that there were score marks and teeth sunken into their 4-ton herbivore, indicating the existence of a predator in the area.


When the team reexamined the rocks, they found teeth consistent with the ones found in P. perotorum, alongside fragments of the skull and jaw. Further comparison determined that the partial skull belongs to a dwarf-sized tyrannosaur, the first of its kind to be found from the region.


With a skull of 600–700 mm (24–28 inches), the predator is expected to be around 8m (25 ft) in total length when it was alive. The reduction of size is likely an adaptation to the longer winters of the polar region, when months of darkness might have reduced hunting opportunities.


Original story published at Discover Magazine.

Image Credit: Nathan Rogers

8e6ac47821297aeee8c843e680637dca

Franz
Anthony

Editor and Artist


http://sulc.us/o1r14
http://www.eartharchives.org/articles/nanuqsaurus-a-pint-size-polar-predator/