A mini dinosaur discovered right here in New Mexico. Researchers believe it is an ancestor of the T-Rex. It was only 3-feet tall, but they say they find is a big deal.
A 20-year-old dinosaur discovery and scientists now know exactly what it is. “It’s a cute fluffy little baby T-Rex,” said UNM Ph.D. Candidate Kat Schroeder. It’s even been given a new name, “Suskityrannus hazelae.”
Virginia Tech Geoscience professor Sterling Nesbitt was 16 when he discovered the fossil remains during a dig in the Zuni Basin in western New Mexico. Researchers have just realized it was related to the well-known Tyrannosaurus Rex.
“These animals represent kind of their ancestral body type before they become big…and the usual ones that show up in kids books, the ones that show up in movies,” Nesbitt said. Even though they are related, they have very different features, and at 3-feet tall, they say its entire body was only a little bigger than the T-Rex’s skull.
“This animal has an elongated face unlike T-Rex’s big massive head, and its hind limbs are very long,” Nesbitt said. The fossils from the duck-billed creature date back 92 million years to the Cretaceous Period.
“Now we’re just trying to understand how they gain their features through these lineages over millions and millions of years,” Nebitt said.
Local experts say a find like this one, gives deeper insight into the evolution of the species.
“It kind of changes our understanding as to these things developing this kind of hyper predatorial mode well before they were huge,” Schroeder said.
The fossils are not on display anywhere. The new name, “Suskityrannus,” pays tribute to the Zuni word for coyote.