T. Rex’s “uncle” discovered in Utah

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

The dinosaur’s forward facing eyes and large back skull give researchers reason to believe the Lythronax had great hunting vision.

When people think of dinosaurs, the first one that often comes to mind is the Tyrannosaurus Rex. The name, which basically means “Tyrant Lizard King” in Greek, is a perfect description for this bad boy’s personality. Well, it turns out he likely inherited his vicious reputation from his terrifying uncle, the Lythronax argestes, who was discovered in Utah.

The Lythronax (which means “King of Gore”) was a little bit smaller than the T. Rex, but this king was every bit as fierce. In fact, his eyes were positioned in a way that gave him really sharp vision, which is perfect for a lethal predator. At a length of 24 feet, a height of 8 feet, and a weight of 2.5 tons, his body probably shook the ground with every thundering step.

“This one is the first example of these kind of dinosaurs being the ruler of the land,” said Thomas Holtz Jr., a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Maryland department of geology.

Here’s the really interesting part. Researchers are positive the Lythronax argestes will force people to change their idea about dinosaurs. Why? Because the gruesome beast was actually covered in a layer of feathers! “Based on fossils found elsewhere, we know that a lot of tyrannosaurs had something of a downy covering – protofeathers,” explained University of Utah paleontologist Randall Irmis, who co-authored a journal article about the discovery.

Interestingly, the beast was discovered in Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in 2009, the very same area where a high school student found the smallest and most complete baby dinosaur fossil ever. At an estimated 80 million years old, researchers predict the King of Gore lived around 10 million years before the infamous T. Rex.

A full skeletal replica, as well as a 3D model, were on display in the Natural History Museum of Utah.

Images courtesy of the National History Museum of Utah.