T-Rex it probably is the most famous dinosaur known to man. It wasn’t just this mega-beast the largest predator in its ecosystem it also had teeth as long as your forearm and bite force to match. It could eat prey as big as a school bus, and had been doing so for at least 2 million years. It was still standing until the end of the age of dinosaurs, when an the asteroid destroyed the planet. Still, while we know quite a bit about T. rexwe know relatively little about its evolutionary history.
Researchers have long claimed this Daspletosaurusrare species theropod found in Montana, may have later evolved into T. rex. And in a new study published in the November 2022 issue of PeerJresearchers have discovered another species daspletosaurus, named Daspletosaurus wilsoni that, in addition to the two other known species, may help bridge the gap.
According to the newspaper, D. wilsoni “shows a unique combination of inherited and derived characteristics,” indicating that it was an intermediate species before T. rexlived 76 million years ago.
“We named a species that fits the genus Daspletosaurus which represents an intermediate point between the two other types (D. torosus and D. horneri)“, he says Elias Warshawauthor of the study and research associate in Badlands Dinosaur Museum in Dickinson, North Dakota.
More for T. Rex:
Looking back at T. Rex
like T. rex, D. wilsoni would have been the largest predator living in the area, feeding on huge duckbills and horned herbivores such as Brachylophosaurus and centrosaurus. Also, the world would look different than it does today.
“Seventy-six million years ago, Montana and large parts of North America were covered by a huge inland sea called the Western Interior Sea,” says Warshaw. The area where the team recovered D. wilsoni it would have been coastal at the time the dinosaur lived. “I would compare it to modern-day Louisiana, but with dinosaurs,” he says.
Researchers believe that D. wilsoni was another link in the chain that would lead to T. rex, which would come 10 million years later and grow into a larger animal with smaller horns. This article, along with much of Warshaw’s research, shows that Daspletosaurus it has not disappeared, but rather evolved T. rex.
Still, there’s a lot we don’t know because of a lack of research, Warshaw says. “There is a gap of several million years between the last ones Daspletosaurus and the earliest T. rex.“
Note the evolution gap
Although we are not there yet, we are getting closer, he says Scott Persons, chief curator of the Mace Brown Museum of Natural History in Charleston, South Carolina, who was not involved in the study. This study demonstrates an important relationship.
“The cool thing about this study is that they have this new definable look Daspletosaurus which lies between the previous two known species – both because it appears at an intermediate point in time and in terms of its evolutionary relationships,” says Persons. “The species has a mix of new and old features that also indicate it’s somewhere in between.”
And for Warshaw and the team at the Badlands Dinosaur Museum, this research is about much more than discovering a new species, it’s about showing how dinosaurs evolved. The process called anagenesissuggests that one species evolved into another.
The team shows that before the Chicxulub crater 66 million years ago, many dinosaurs did not go extinct, but rather “their replacements were descendants that evolved into each other,” Warshaw says. This would apply to many more species than just that of the world’s most famous mega-predator.