Thanatotheristes, ‘reaper of death’ dinosaur discovered

Budding dinosaur hunters have something to get excited about. Scientists have found a new dinosaur that they’re considering a cousin to the T. rex.

It's called the Thanatotheristes, which translates from Greek to "reaper of death," National Geographic reported.

It's the first tyrannosaurid to be found in 50 years. It took two years of research to see how the fossil that was in a cabinet with others at Alberta's Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, fit into the puzzle of time and evolution, according to National Geographic.

It was originally found during a hike near Hays, Alberta, Canada, by farmer John DeGroot, who the dinosaur is now named after, CBS News reported.

Thanatotheristes degrootorum is about 79.5 million years old and is close to the start of the line of when T. rex and its ancestors started to dominate the ecological ladder, with the first tyrannosaurids starting to rule about 165 million years ago, but those were small, about 5 feet tall. When other predators started to die off, that’s when the terrible lizard’s line took control, growing into the iconic dinosaur made famous in movies like “Jurassic Park.” The T. rex we all have come to know, the 40-foot long, 9-ton behemoth.

Introducing the first new species of tyrannosaur discovered in Canada in 50 years. Meet Thanatotheristes degrootorum, the ‘reaper of death’! Read all about it on our blog:

Posted by Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology on Monday, February 10, 2020

Thanatotheristes is not as big as T. rex, National Geographic reported. But it is the oldest, with four of the five found in Canada -- Daspletosaurus, Gorgosaurus, Albertosaurus and Tyrannosaurus, being between 77 and 66 million years old, CBS News reported.

"They weren't all monstrous superpredators like T. rex, but there were many little subgroups that had their own domains and their own distinctive body types," University of Edinburgh paleontologist Steve Brusatte, told National Geographic.

The Thanatotheristes has a differently shaped skull than the T. rex, including vertical ridges on the upper jaw, CBS News reported.

For more on the new dino discovery, click here to visit the journal Cretaceous Research.

About the Author