Many dinosaurs are known to have existed in the distant past, but one of the most iconic and well-known is the tyrannosaurus rex. A team of paleontologists led by an Edinburg researcher recently discovered the first known fossils of tyrannosaur embryos that have shed light on the fierce dinosaur’s development. Insights into the dinosaur were made by examining fossilized remains of a tiny jawbone and claw that were discovered in Canada and the US.
Paleontologists produced 3D scans of the delicate fragments of bone, revealing they belong to a baby tyrannosaurus, a cousin to the T-Rex. Researchers believe that the dinosaurs were around three feet long when they hatched based on the size of the fossils. Findings suggest that tyrannosaur eggs, the remains of which have never been discovered before, are around 17-inches long.
The discovery could aid in recognizing similar eggs in the future, leading to greater insights into the nesting habits of the tyrannosaur. Analysis of the jawbone, which was about three centimeters long, shows distinctive features such as a pronounced chin indicating the physical traits were present before the animals hatched.
The discovery is critical because little is known about the earliest elemental stages of Tyrannosaurus, which roamed the Earth over 70 million years ago. Most fossils of the creature previously studied have been from older juvenile or adult animals. Despite being one of the more studied dinosaur families, little is known about the early years.
The work on these fossils is the first window into the dinosaur’s early lives, teaching about the size and appearance of a baby tyrannosaur. Researchers say that they now know the tyrannosaur would’ve been the largest hatchlings to ever emerge from eggs and would’ve looked very similar to their parents.