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First tyrannosaur embryo fossils revealed


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The first known fossils of baby tyrannosaurs reveal that some of the largest predators ever to stalk the Earth started life about the size of a Chihuahua—with a really long tail.

The fossils—a foot claw and a lower jaw—are from tyrannosaurs still in the embryonic stage, when the developing dinosaurs would have been snugly wrapped up in their eggs. Found at different fossil sites in western North America, both date to about 71 to 75 million years ago, when tyrannosaurs had just become the apex predators of their environments.


The new fossils reveal tyrannosaur babies were tiny compared to the adults—only about a tenth as long as grown tyrannosaurs. By contrast, a baby African elephant is about a fourth the height of the adults. The jaw came from a tyrannosaur that was about two and a half feet long, and the toe claw belonged to an animal a little over three feet long.

“The embryonic tyrannosaurids give us an idea on not only the size of a baby, but also the size of tyrannosaurid eggs,” Johnson-Ransom says.


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