According to the Washington Post, a team of scientists from North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences have stumbled upon the remains of a pregnant Tyrannosaurus rex.
The group of scientists were able to confirm the 68 million-year-old dinosaur’s pregnancy by examining its femur fossil.
“This analysis allows us to determine the gender of this fossil, and gives us a window into the evolution of egg-laying in modern birds,” scientist and lead author Mary Schweitzer mentioned in a statement Tuesday.
Schweitzer, a paleontologist at N.C. State, and her group have since published their findings in regards to the T.Rex in the journal Scientific Reports.
According to the publication, the fossil that was excavated belonged to a T. rex that lived millions of years ago, during the Cretaceous Period, roaming the area that is now Montana. The remains of this unique creature carried a kind of tissue — medullary bone — found only in female species that carry eggs or have just finished laying them, and could also prove to retain preserved DNA.
Lindsay Zanno, an assistant research professor of biological sciences at N.C. State, explained that medullary bone lines the marrow cavity of the long bones of birds.
“It’s a special tissue that is built up as easily mobilized calcium storage just before egg laying,” she said. “The outcome is that birds do not have to pull calcium from the main part of their bones in order to shell eggs, weakening their bones the way crocodiles do.”
Zanno confirmed that crocodiles are the closest living relatives of dinosaurs.
“Medullary bone is thus present just before and during egg laying, but is entirely gone after the female has finished laying eggs,” she added.
Scweitzer and Zanno’s team discovered the medullary bone back in 2005. In their initial exams, blood vessels were believed to be discovered–soft tissues that were somehow preserved for millions of years. The finding has since been co-opted by young-Earth creationists, who believe the tissues found support the claim that dinosaur bones are not as old as many scientists believe, a theory Schweitzer does not support.
The news of the pregnant T.Rex fossil is the latest of ground-breaking discoveries regarding one of the most iconic carnivores of our earth’s distant past.
The New York Times recently published an article focusing on the Tyrannosaurs lineage: stating that the creature was not always the behemoth size we’ve known them to be.
According to the article, the very first tyrannosaurs were about the size of a human, and a recent fossil finding in Uzbekistan has allowed paleontologists to piece together the creatures mysterious lineage: their discovery resulted in a creature with many of the tyrannosaur’s characteristics, but not its stature of heft.
“It has long been thought that tyrannosaurs were such successful predators, in part, because of their large brains and ears well-attuned to low-frequency sound,” stated Stephen L. Brusatte, a paleontologist and lead author of a paper published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, describing the new dinosaur. “The new Uzbek tyrannosaur has basically the same brain as T. rex — same shape, proportions, etc. — just smaller.”
Both findings are monumental in the attempt to learn more of not only the T. Rex species and its genetic makeup, but of the era in which the creature inhabited along with the variables that played into its evolution.
[Photo by Carola Radke/Museum of Natural History Berlin/obs via AP Images]