Tyrannosaurs Were Human-size for 80 Million Years T. rex's genus was slow to grow, review finds. By Brian Handwerk, for National Geographic News
PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER 17, 2010
Rex Canine Maximus
"Tyrannosaurus rex may have towered over its Cretaceous competition, but for their first 80 million years, most tyrannosaur species were small-timers—no bigger than humans, researchers say.
Recent fossil finds—including six new tyrannosaur species last year alone—suggest that T. rex's genus had a mysterious growth spurt relatively late in its lineage, according to a review of tyrannosaur fossils in tomorrow's issue of the journal Science.
"Ten years ago we only knew about five or six different tyrannosaur species, and they were all very similar—giant apex predators like T. rex," said paleontologist Stephen Brusatte, a Ph.D. student at Columbia University affiliated with New York's American Museum of Natural History.
"Now we have 20 tyrannosaurs, spanning a hundred million years through the Jurassic and Cretaceous," said Brusatte, who co-authored the new review.
"They range in size from small dogs all the way up to T. rex," whichcould reach 40 feet (12 meters) from nose to tail tip."
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