Fossilized Baby Tyrannosaur Teeth Have Been Uncovered in Montana

Thursday, 29 March 2018 - 6:32PM
Thursday, 29 March 2018 - 6:32PM
Fossilized Baby Tyrannosaur Teeth Have Been Uncovered in Montana
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YouTube/KU News Service
The Tyrannosaurus rex still looked absolutely terrifying even as a kid, going off these enormous new fossils.

A team of researchers at the University of Kansas recently excavated a fossilized upper jaw with teeth completely intact in the Hell Creek Formation in Montana. While tests still need to be done to confirm its nature, it's small and bears a terrifying resemblance to larger Tyrannosaurus rex fossils, suggesting the ancient teeth came from a child born about 66.5 million years ago.

See for yourself below:

The goal right now is to confirm that it is in fact a baby T. rex, because there's still a chance it could be some sort of tiny carnivore. Only a small handful of baby T. rex fossils have ever been found, so the team of paleontologists at KU are working to match it with those, as well as some of the adult fossils which are slightly more common.

But since all animal skeletons change as they grow older, this isn't an easy task. Other fossils have been found in the area and classified as a sort of "Nanotyrannus," but some paleontologists believe these are simply young Tyrannosaurs rex fossils as well.

Once confirmed, this row of once razor-sharp teeth could reveal a lot about the life cycle of the king of dinosaurs (or at least, dinosaurs in the Cretaceous period). According to David Burnham from the KU Biodiversity Institute, it's tough to be sure just because a young T. rex is so difficult to come by. He said the following in a press release from Kansas University:

Opening quote
"The teeth suggest it's a Tyrannosaurus rex; however, there is still more work to be done. Because a young T. rex is so rare, there are only a few that have been found over the years, so it's difficult to discern what are changes due to growth or if the differences in the bones reflect different species. Fortunately, KU has an older T. rex to compare with and another young T. rex on loan to help decipher this problem."
Closing quote

Young dinosaurs can still be a challenge, as those types of fossils can be even more difficult to come by than the standard adult ones. Stories like Jurassic Park have attempted to show what baby dinosaurs look like, as have less scientific films like The Land Before Time, but there's always some artistic license being taken. 

This fossil could help the next Jurassic World film be more accurate though, although it's tough to imagine the studio worrying much about that anyways.
Science News