University of Kansas researchers unearthed dinosaur remains that are suspected to be that of a baby Tyrannosaurus rex. The remains were uncovered in central Montana’s Hell Creek Formation.
The fossil includes the complete upper jaw of the dinosaur and all the teeth are still intact. The remains also include the backbone, the foot, hips, and skull of the animal, according to KU News. Based on the appearance of the fossil, there’s a high likelihood that it is that of a baby Tyrannosaur. However, there’s also a possibility that it is that of another carnivorous dinosaur. Hence, researchers are still analyzing their latest haul.
Remains Are Most Likely That Of A Tyrannosaurus Rex
University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute’s David Burnham revealed that the teeth from the fossil suggest that the remains are that of a T. rex. He emphasized how difficult it is to distinguish a young T. rex from that of another species since fossil remains of the carnivorous dinosaur are rare.
Researchers can compare the remains with that of an older T. rex and they also have the fossils of the dinosaur’s younger version on loan. By matching these remains to the one they found, it will be easier to come up with a conclusion for their study.
“Confusing the issue here is age. Ontogeny, that’s the process of growth — and during that process we change. Adult dinosaur bones, especially in the skull, don’t look the same as their younger selves. So, if someone finds a baby or juvenile fossil they may think it’s a new species, but we have to be careful since it may represent a younger growth stage of an existing species. It’s reasonable to assume Nanotyrannus could be valid — but we must show it’s not just a stage in the life history of T. rex.”
Controversy Over Supposed T. Rex Remains
Over the years, bones considered to be that of a young Tyrannosaurus rex have been unearthed, but there are differences in opinion as to the identity of the animal to which the remains belong to. Some researchers suggest that it is that of another dinosaur species, but some claim that it is the fossil of a young Tyrannosaur.
The remains found in Hell Creek Formation may also be that of the Nanotyrannus, another meat-eating dinosaur species. However, this claim is controversial as there are those who suggest that the remains of what is supposed to be that of the new dinosaur species is that of a young Tyrannosaur.
Among the most controversial remains which have confused researchers were found in Illinois back in 2003. As reported by BBC, researchers from Burpee Museum of Natural History found the skeleton dubbed as “Jane,” which could either be the pygmy dinosaur related to the T. rex, Nanotyrannus, or a carnivorous giant that died at a young age.
In 2003, Gregory Erickson of Florida State University received permission to slice a fibula of the dinosaur remains and compare it to the bones of known T. rex. Based on the study, Jane has a bone structure closer to a young T. rex and is not a Nanotyrannus.
The fossil uncovered in Montana could shed light on this controversy. Burnham and the researchers involved in the study, which includes Kyle Atkins-Weltman, will publish the results of the investigation in the next few months.
The University of Kansas researchers also believe that there could be more dinosaur remains in the Hell Creek Formation, aside from the baby Tyrannosaurus rex, and they will be back to excavating the site by summer.