Tyrannosaurus rex: Expert examines brain of dinosaur
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Many consider the T-Rex to be the biggest and meanest monster on the block – and for good reason – but the Ulughbegsaurus uzbekistanensis was a heavyweight champion in its own right. Measuring an impressive 26ft (eight metres) and weighing 2,200 pounds (1,000kg) the carnivorous predator would have been at the top of the food chain 90 million years ago. The dinosaur’s status as an apex predator was secured by its razor-sharp teeth measuring up to six inches long.
The Ulughbegsaurus belongs to a group of two-legged theropod dinosaurs known as the Carcharodontosaurs – a name that means “shark-toothed dinosaurs”.
The dino prowled the steppe of Central Asia at least 30 million years before the T-Rex rose to the top of the food chain, terrorising many of the smaller predators previously discovered in the area.
Among them was an ancestor of the T-Rex, the smaller Tyrannosaur timurlengia.
And it was only recently that palaeontologists have named the new dino, with its discovery outlined today in Royal Society Open Science.
Ulughbegsaurus’s partial fossil was discovered by researchers from Japan and Canada, in the Uzbeki Kyzylkum Desert.
The fossil was collected from a prehistoric rock formation known as the Bissekty Formation, dated to between 90 million to 92 million years ago.
And even though the palaeontologists only discovered a fragment of the dino’s skull, it marked the first-ever Carcharodontosaurus discovery in Central Asia.
The beast was named in honour of Ulugh Beg, a 15th-century sultan, astronomer and mathematician in the Timurid Empire.
Dr Kohei Tanaka, of Nagoya University, who led the study, said: “Ulughbegsaurus was eight metres in length and over a tonne in weight, based on the size of the jaw bone.
Dinosaurs: Fossil shows 'different appearance' says expert
“The skull would have measured about a metre. It had knife-like sharp teeth – and was a meat-eater.”
According to the expert, the dinosaur closely resembled the Neovenator, which was discovered on the Isle of Wight.
The Neovenator was one of the biggest and best-known predators from the Early Cretaceous in what is modern-day Europe.
The Ulughbegsaurus was identified from a piece of jawbone and tooth found in the Bissekty Formation.
The geological formation is packed to the brim with a wide range of dinosaur species spanning the millennia.
Among them are the fossilised remains of horned dinosaurs, duckbilled dinosaurs and the long-necked sauropods – some of the biggest animals to have ever lived.
The Ulughbegsaurus would have been an apex predator of its time, thriving on the various creatures that lived alongside it.
Dr Tanaka said: “Diverse groups including plant-eating duck-billed and horned dinosaurs, ankylosaurs and enormous sauropods – and various small carnivore dinosaurs – have been collected there.
“Ulughbegsaurus, as the apex predator of the ecosystem, hunted these dinosaurs.
“The Bissekty Formation also includes other animals such as various birds, pterosaurs and mammals.
“It must have been a fabulously rich environment.”
The Carcharodontosaurus family lived between 145 million and 72.1 million years ago.
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