Meet the T. rex cousin who you could literally look down on

The new dinosaur is called Suskityrannus hazelae, named after the Zuni word for coyote

History’s most frightening dinosaur, the Tyrannosaurus rex, came from a long line of pipsqueaks.

Scientists have identified a new cousin of the T. rex as a dinosaur that only reached the 3-foot height of a toddler. If it stretched its duck-billed head, an adult human maybe “would be looking at it in the eye,” said Sterling Nesbitt, a paleontologist at Virginia Tech, who discovered the dinosaur.

READ MORE: TIMELINE: A look back at Science World ahead of its 30th anniversary

Nesbitt found a set of its bones in 1998 when he was 16, while serving as a volunteer on a dig in New Mexico with a famed paleontologist. But for about two decades, scientists weren’t certain what it was, until other small cousins of T. rex were discovered.

“The small group of tyrannosauroid dinosaurs would give rise to some of the biggest predators that we’ve ever seen,” said Nesbitt, lead author of a study in Monday’s journal Nature Ecology and Evolution .

The new dinosaur is called Suskityrannus hazelae, named after the Zuni word for coyote. It dates back 92 million years, about 20 million years before the T. rex stomped the Earth.

The newly discovered cousin — which was three times longer than it was tall — weighed between 45 and 90 pounds, almost nothing compared to the nine-ton king of the dinosaurs.

Suskityrannus hazalae isn’t the first or even smallest of the Tyrannosaurus family tree, but Nesbitt said it provides the best example of how this family of modest-sized dinosaurs evolved into the towering horror of movies, television shows and nightmares.

Smithsonian Institution paleobiologist Hans Sues, who wasn’t part of the study, said it was an important find. “Suskityrannus is the first really good record of the early tyrannosaurs in North America,” he wrote in an email.

It is unclear why these carnivores, which weren’t particularly big compared with other dinosaurs alive at that time, later evolved to be so enormous.

Nesbitt said the newly discovered species is probably among the last of the little guys. It was bigger than earlier tyrannosauroids and had big feet needed for speed — something the T. rex lost.

By Seth Borenstein, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Rare white ravens spotted again in mid-Island

Nature photographer Mike Yip said mysterious birds back in Coombs area

RCMP evacuate Cowichan detachment due to explosive device

Device disposed of without incident after man brings in discovered explosive

CO’s call off attempts to trap bear who attacked North Island man

Woss man recuperating after incident on remote logging road

Memorial ride set for fallen Vancouver Island mountain biker

Event scheduled for Tuesday evening for the mountain biker who died in the Cumberland trail system

UPDATED: Saanich Police arrest driver after serious hit and run

Motorists advised to avoid area of McKenzie Avenue and Shelbourne Street

Silly Boat Regatta fills Nanaimo harbour with silly sailing

Island Red Cedar Construction wins this year’s race

SLIDESHOW: ‘Lightning’ hits Vancouver Island for annual Sproat Lake regatta

Alberni Valley Regatta Association hosted sixth annual races

SLIDESHOW: Vancouver Islanders gather for classic cars and cool aircraft

Campbell River’s annual Wings & Wheels event held at city’s airport

Canadian is detained in China on drug allegations: Chinese government

Detention of a Canadian in China comes as part a diplomatic dispute triggered by arrest of Huawei exec Meng Wanzhou

Island man narrowly escapes being run down by his own truck

Saanich resident working on his truck on Darwin Avenue, when it started to roll on him

Firefighters keep flames away from evacuated Langford townhouse

Crews respond after brush fire near Walmart jumps to garden shed

Vancouver Island bid to host 2021 national championships falls short

Hockey Canada hasn’t announced successful bid, but has advised it won’t be Nanaimo

Too much time on social media can hurt teens’ mental health: study

Researchers conducted a four-year survey of more than 3,800 adolescents between Grades 7 and 11

Advocates want charges in horse deaths during Calgary Stampede chuckwagon races

Chuckwagon races are a nightly spectacle during the Stampede, a 10-day annual celebration of western life

Most Read