What had two puny arms, lived 90 million years ago and probably chowed down on other dinosaurs? (Hint: It’s not T. rex.)
A new dinosaur discovered in what is now Patagonia had the runty forelimbs of a Tyrannosaurus rex but is no cousin of the giant iconic predator, researchers report July 13 in PLOS ONE.
The new species, Gualicho shinyae, has a close relative in Africa, an analysis of fossils suggests. T. rex’s ancestors, on the other hand, came from Asia.
Gualicho is a “smaller, slimmer, trimmer version of a T. rex,” says study coauthor Peter Makovicky, a paleontologist at the Field Museum in Chicago. It probably weighed about a ton and was longer than a pickup truck.
In 2007, Makovicky’s team discovered Gualicho’s partial skeleton — including those impractical arms. The dinosaur probably caught prey with its huge head, Makovicky says. Though the researchers haven’t dug up a skull yet, tiny arms seem to be a trade-off for a big head. Finding Gualicho’s skull would help nail down that idea, he adds.
Gualicho may have fed on grazers called ornithopods, such as duck-billed dinosaurs. Or perhaps it fed on the long-necked, long-tailed sauropods, which were common in the region. But only the youngsters. Sauropod adults were gigantic, Makovicky says, definitely not prey for a (relatively) little guy like Gualicho.