Meet Thanatotheristes degrootorum. A large 26 foot long tyrannosaur living 80 million years ago in what is now Alberta Canada. It’s name comes from the Greek god of death “Thanatos” and the Greek word for “reap”.
So loosely translated the name means
“Reaper of Death”
Degrootorum is a tribute to the fossil hunters who found the animal in 2010.
At first the animal was thought to be a Daspletosaurus but Subtle details of the fossils, such as the shape of the cheek bone and vertical ridges along where the teeth socketed into the upper jaw, indicated that the bones represented an animal never seen before. The bones are about 2.5 million years older than other tyrannosaurids found in Alberta, and come from rocks that can be stubborn about giving up fossils.
What is interesting is that The recent announcement of large tyrannosaurs of similar age from the south, such as Lythronax from Utah and Dynamoterror from New Mexico, all underscore the fact that tyrannosaurids were imposing predators by about 80 million years ago at the latest.
“There seems to be different types of related tyrannosaurs in different geographic regions, which vary in skull form and shape,” Zelenitsky says. While some similar-aged tyrannosaurs from southern regions have short, “bulldog-like” snouts, Zelenitsky notes, northern tyrannosaurs such as Thanatotheristes and Daspletosaurus have comparatively longer snouts.
The longer the snout, the faster the bite. The shorter the snout, the more powerful the bite.
More research is needed to confirm why different Tyrannosaurids developed longer or shorter snouts in different geological regions. But ether way, it is amazing to know that tyrannosaurs were large, developed, wide-spread, apex predators by 80 million years ago.
Let’s also take a second to admire paleo artist Julius Csotonyi’s outstanding depiction of this amazing animal. Really brings the imagination to life.
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