Monday, 5 October 2009
Hello Alioramus altai !
Alioramus altai Brusatte et al., 2009
Tyrannosauridae; Saurischia; Sauropsida; Chordata
Today, a new species of tyrannosaurid has been described. How did I get to do the above red pen sketch so fast? I didn't... I found out about A. altai at SVP and sketched it whilst watching Steve Brusatte give a talk on this beast (Zach Miller also did the same but his is much better).
The description is available in PNAS here, but is not open access. I haven't had the chance to read it yet, and look forward to reading more about it. What I do know is that it is a new species, but not a new genus: Alioramus remotus was described in 1976, but remains are patchy. Enough material was available to place the animal in the same family as Albertosaurus, Gorgosaurus, Tarbosaurus and of course Tyrannosaurus. That was until the discovery and analysis of the new specimen, found in Mongolia, which was relatively very well preserved.
The skull is fantastically preserved, and most of the bones are present. Most notably, the skull is quite elongated, and has a ridge of small horns along the top. It lived during at the end of the Late Cretaceous period in an environment with such other animals as Gallimimus and Tarbosaurus, a very close relative of Tyrannosaurus. Clearly it was able to live alongside its larger and more robust relative, and most likely preyed on different foods.