Researchers have identified a new species of Tyrannosaurus in New Mexico, pushing its lineage back 5 to 7 million years before the familiar Tyrannosaurus rex, potentially adding a new chapter to T-Rex's origin story.The recently named species, Tyrannosaurus mcraeensis, has been identified as the closest known relative of T-Rex, according to a new paper published in thejournal Scientific Reports.The newly discovered predator, older and more primitive than its famous cousin, matches its size at about 40 feet long and 12 feet high. The study is based on a partial skull collected in the 1980s from western New Mexico, suggesting Tyrannosaurus existed in North America millions of years earlier than previously thought, predating T-Rex by about 6 to 7 million years.“This important discovery, made in New Mexico and co-authored by New Mexico researchers, demonstrates that our state remains at the forefront of scientific research and inquiry,” said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham ina press release. “New Mexico’s cultural institutions continue to lead the way on groundbreaking work in their respective fields and remain a key pillar of our statewide economy."The paper notes that before this discovery, we knew T-Rex, a huge predator with cute little arms, arrived in North America over 60 million years ago. But, since it had no close relatives, how and when it came and evolved was a mystery.“The new discovery expands our understanding of tyrannosaurs in several ways. First, they suggest that the apex predators lived in what’s now the southern United States at least 72 million years ago, long before the first fossils of T-Rex were found in the same region. Tyrannosaurus likely originated in southern North America then later expanded into much of the western portion of the continent,” experts with the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science saidin a press release.The paper also notes that the new fossils indicate that larger, more advanced tyrannosaurs evolved in the southern United States, while smaller, more primitive ones lived in Montana and Canada.
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