'Ballerina-Like' T. Rex Cousin Discovered

Size, light skeleton and delicate teeth suggest different prey from larger relative
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 6, 2009 3:27 PM CDT
Researchers in the Gobi Desert of Inner Mongolia, near where the new species was found.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – A smaller, more agile cousin of the Tyrannosaurus rex has been identified. The skull and a nearly complete skeleton of Alioramus altai was discovered in Mongolia in 2001, and has features that distinguish it from its more lumbering cousin. Unlike its “big bad boy” relatives, a study author tells National Geographic, “this one is more like a ballerina.” Alioramus is also much smaller, and has four horns not found on the T. rex.

The horns, located on the dinosaurs cheeks, are too small for combat and “have never been seen in any carnivorous dinosaur before,” the author continues. Researchers surmise they could have been used to attract females. The lighter bones, which support a skull fitted with much weaker jaws than relatives, mean that the new species “probably relied more on speed, agility, and finesse, to go after smaller prey.” Click the link to see illustrations of the Alioramus altai.