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Raptorex (Greek for "thief king"); pronounced RAP-toe-rex


Woodlands of central Asia

Historical Period:

Early Cretaceous (130 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 10 feet long and 150 pounds



Distinguishing Characteristics:

Small size; stunted hands and arms

About Raptorex

Discovered in inner Mongolia by the famous paleontologist Paul Sereno, Raptorex lived about 60 million years before its more famous descendant Tyrannosaurus Rex--but this dinosaur already had the basic tyrannosaur body plan (big head, powerful legs, stunted arms), albeit in a diminutive package of only 150 pounds or so. (Based on an analysis of its bones, the sole specimen of Raptorex appears to have been a full-grown adult six years of age). Analogizing from other early tyrannosaurs--like the Asian Dilong--Raptorex may have been covered with feathers, though as yet there's no definitive proof for this.

A recent study of Raptorex's "type fossil" has cast some doubt on the conclusions reached by Sereno. Another team of paleontologists claims that the sediments Raptorex was found in have been dated incorrectly, and that this dinosaur was actually a juvenile of the late Cretaceous tyrannosaur Tarbosaurus! (The giveaway is that the fossil of a prehistoric fish uncovered alongside Raptorex was misidentified, and it fact belonged to a genus that plied the rivers of Mongolia during the late rather than early Cretaceous period.)


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