…and just to prove it, here are a couple of cool dinosaur finds reported in the last week or so.
Tiny Tyrannosaurus – not actually a Tyrannosaurus, of course, since they’re pretty big, but the smallest Tyrannosauroid found so far. At around the height of a human and up to three metres long from head to tail, it’s not really all that tiny, but Raptorex kriegsteini is, as the name suggests, an excellent suggestion of how Tyrannosaurids – with their defining features of tiny arms and massive head – evolved from smaller theropods. As pointed out in the linked article, it’s unlikely to be a direct ancestor of T. rex, but still, it shows us what their ancestor probably looked like, and how they diverged from smaller predators before getting bigger. No transitional fossils my arse, Creationists.
Oh, and Raptorex isn’t just a portmanteau – it means “King of Thieves”. Yes: this is the Autolycus, and thus the Bruce Campbell, of dinosaurs. Kriegstein is the name of the person who donated the fossil, though it’s actually in honour of his father, a Holocaust survivor.
As a side note, check out Raptorex paper author Paul Sereno’s web site. It’s pretty awesome; among other things, he rents out and sells replicas of his fossil finds, and on his postings page you can be disabused of the notion that the scientific community is one big, happy family. This is why is pays to delve into the links given on any science story!)
Earliest feathered dinosaur – Raptorex might have had feathers, but Anchiornis huxleyi is particularly significant because it pre-dates even Archeopteryx, usually acknowledged as the earliest bird. The genus name means “near bird”, but the type species honours Darwin’s bulldog, Thomas Henry Huxley. It even had two different kinds of feathers. Dinosaurs are awesome.