Tyrannosaurus rex may have ruled the land in its day, but a newly discovered species, its closest known relative, was the top dog some 10 million years earlier. Lythronax argestes—which translates to "the king of gore from the southwest"—lived 80 million years ago in the central region of North America, and with a skull "designed for grabbing something, shaking it to death, and tearing it apart," the feathery, scaly beast ate whatever it fancied, researchers tell the AP. Fossils of the new species were found in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah in 2009 but it took paleontologists four years to dig them up and confirm they belonged to an undiscovered dinosaur.
"This shows that these big, banana-tooth bruisers go back to the very first days of the giant tyrant dinosaurs," says one paleontologist. "This one is the first example of these kind of dinosaurs being the ruler of the land." With a short, narrow snout and eyes that slanted forward for an overlapping field of vision, it had the view of a hunter, the BBC reports, though at 24 feet long and 8 feet tall at the hip, it would have been smaller than T. rex. But the Lythronax probably won't be the last T. rex ancestor to be found. "There's a slew of new tyrannosaurs waiting to be discovered out there," a paleontologist tells the Christian Science Monitor. "We are just beginning to understand this 80-million-year-old ecosystem." Click for another fascinating fossil find: a "platypus-zilla." (Read more dinosaurs stories.)