Becoming T. rex

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Science  16 Oct 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5951, pp. 373-374
DOI: 10.1126/science.1181276

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Gigantic, ferocious, long-dead animals like Tyrannosaurus rex never fail to capture people's attention, and the discovery of a new tyrannosaur—giant or otherwise—is always big news. On page 418 of this issue, Sereno et al. (1) report on a spectacular skeleton of a new genus and species near the ancestry of the group including T. rex and its closest relatives, the Tyrannosauridae. At an estimated 3 m total length, Raptorex kriegsteini is much smaller than the largest T. rex [12.8 m long (2)] and other tyrannosaurids, but has several key features previously known only in this family. Raptorex thus provides a glimpse at how tyrannosaurids evolved.