Scientists unearth pygmy T. rex dinosaur in Alaska

Scientists discover "all-star center fielder for the New York Yankees in the dinosaur world," according to Dr. Tony Fiorillo of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas.
By Brooks Hays   |   Updated March 13, 2014 at 1:02 PM

Paleontologists have confirmed a new species of dinosaur, a miniature cousin of the Tyrannosaur, which roamed the Arctic hunting duck-billed species at the foot of snowy peaks.

The pygmy dinosaur was discovered several years ago during a dig in which another species was the specimen. But unexpected findings can never be ruled out at the Prince Creek Formation -- a fossil-rich strata of 70-million-year-old rock.

Scientists recently reexamined their prehistoric evidence, and found they had discovered a new dinosaur. They named the new species Nanuqsaurus hoglundi. The first part of the new dino's name, Nanuq, translates to "polar bear lizard" in the Alaska Inupiat language, while the latter part, Hoglundi, pays tribute to the Hoglund family of Dallas, Texas, who helped fund the digging expedition.

Though the new species has been dubbed the pygmy T. rex, it was still pretty big, likely the top predator in the Arctic. Roughly have the size of a Tyrannosaurus rex, the N. hoglundi likely measured 20 to 25 feet in length, a little over five feet in hight, and weighed up to 1,000 pounds.

As for its (relatively) diminutive frame, Dr. Tony Fiorillo of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, who led the expedition and study, says it was both an attribute and a response the environment. He told National Geographic that the dino was "all-star center fielder for the New York Yankees in the dinosaur world" -- alluding to its likely ability to cover a lot of ground. He said it was also probably smaller because there was less food in the cold, half-frozen region.

The findings of Fiorillo and his colleagues were published in the last edition of the scientific journal PLOS-ONE.

[National Geographic]

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