'Reaper of death' who fed on other dinosaurs discovered

A new dinosaur species related to Tyrannosaurs found in Canada.

Thanatotheristes degrootorum, seen in this artist's impression, is the first new tyrannosaur species named in Canada in 50 years.

Julius Csotonyi
  • Scientists in Canada discover a new species of dinosaur.
  • The species is named Thanatotheristes degrootorum, which stands for "Reaper of Death"
  • The dinosaur lived about 79 million years ago.

A new dinosaur species was found in Alberta, Canada. Related to Tyrannosaurs, the Thanatotheristes degrootorum is the oldest dinosaur ever found in the country, roaming its lands about 79 millions years ago.

The newly-discovered species, the first such find in the last 50 years, shares a lineage with the fearsome T.rex, which came about 11 million years later. Thanatotheristes degrootorum, whose name translates ominously as the "reaper of death," had the length of two cars and the height of about 2.4 meters. It lived during the Cretaceous period, when it prayed on herbivorous beasts like the horned dinosaur Xenoceratops and Colepiocephale, who head is shaped like a dome. Remains of these two species were also found at the same fossil site called the Foremost Formation. Millions of years ago it was a plain with swamps on the coast of the Western Interior Seaway, an inland sea that stretched from the Arctic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico.

Darla Zelenitsky, Jared Voris and Francois Therrien, co-authors of the study, with the fossils of the dinosaur species.

Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology

The research was led by Jared Voris, a University of Calgary PhD candidate, who co-authored with study with the research group leader Professor Darla Zelenitsky.

"This animal would have absolutely been an imposing creature in the ecosystem that it lived in and it would very likely have been the apex predator," Voris explained, adding that "It was really nice to have some sort of name that encapsulated that kind of behaviour."

Dinosaurs are alive! Here’s how we know, and why it matters

The Thanatotheristes was indeed the top predator among the three dinosaur species found in southern Alberta so far. The others were more likely to be herbivores. Professor Zelenitsky called T.rex's distant cousin as "relatively rare in the ecosystems," said Professor Zelenitsky," adding "These were probably only a few per cent of the animals."

The scientists are looking for find other specimen of the dinosaur still out there, hoping it will fill out the picture of prehistoric life in the region.

A still from the film "We Became Fragments" by Luisa Conlon , Lacy Roberts and Hanna Miller, part of the Global Oneness Project library.

Photo: Luisa Conlon , Lacy Roberts and Hanna Miller / Global Oneness Project
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Stories are at the heart of learning, writes Cleary Vaughan-Lee, Executive Director for the Global Oneness Project. They have always challenged us to think beyond ourselves, expanding our experience and revealing deep truths.
  • Vaughan-Lee explains 6 ways that storytelling can foster empathy and deliver powerful learning experiences.
  • Global Oneness Project is a free library of stories—containing short documentaries, photo essays, and essays—that each contain a companion lesson plan and learning activities for students so they can expand their experience of the world.
Keep reading Show less

What the world will look like in the year 250,002,018

This is what the world will look like, 250 million years from now

On Pangaea Proxima, Lagos will be north of New York, and Cape Town close to Mexico City
Surprising Science

To us humans, the shape and location of oceans and continents seems fixed. But that's only because our lives are so short.

Keep reading Show less

Why we must teach students to solve big problems

The future of education and work will rely on teaching students deeper problem-solving skills.

Future of Learning
  • Asking kids 'What do you want to be when you grow up?' is a question that used to make sense, says Jaime Casap. But it not longer does; the nature of automation and artificial intelligence means future jobs are likely to shift and reform many times over.
  • Instead, educators should foster a culture of problem solving. Ask children: What problem do you want to solve? And what talents or passions do you have that can be the avenues by which you solve it?
  • "[T]he future of education starts on Monday and then Tuesday and then Wednesday and it's constant and consistent and it's always growing, always improving, and if we create that culture I think that would bring us a long way," Casap says.
Keep reading Show less

Allosaurus dabbled in cannibalism according to new fossil evidence

These Jurassic predators resorted to cannibalism when hit with hard times, according to a deliciously rare discovery.

Fig 3. Shed lateral tooth of Allosaurus sp. (MWC 5011) found at the Mygatt-Moore Quarry, white arrow indicates the distal denticles.

Stephanie K. Drumheller et.al
Surprising Science
  • Rare fossil evidence of dinosaur cannibalism among the Allosaurus has been discovered.
  • Scientists analyzed dinosaur bones found in the Mygatt-Moore Quarry in western Colorado, paying special attention to bite marks that were present on 2,368 of the bones.
  • It's likely that the predatory carnivore only ate their already-dead peers during times when resources were scarce.
Keep reading Show less
Scroll down to load more…