While the T. Rex is certainly a fan favorite among dinosaur aficionados, along with the triceratops, the pterodactyl, and the brainy velociraptor, paleontologists know surprisingly little about the ferocious predator. Of course, this is because of a lack of relevant fossils, or least a lack of newer ones.
But as it turns out, even older fossils are just as good, if not better, as a newly discovered dinosaur shows how the T. rex was a minmaxer. By minmaxer I of course mean that T. rexes were practitioners of the tabletop RPG stratagem used by munchkins of maximizing some stats at the expense of others. And that’s exactly what the king of the dinosaurs did with its evolution.
But before I delve deeper into D&D concepts, let’s talk for a bit about the new species of dinosaur found. Named Timurlengia euotica, the reptiles lived some 90 million years ago and were clearly the forefathers of the tyrannosaurus rex. And they revealed an entire previously unknown history of the species.
A Timurlengia skull was recently found in the Kyzylkum Desert in Northern Uzbekistan, paving the way for a better understanding of the species. The skull told the paleontologists that the creature was but the size of a horse, something hard to imagine regarding a T. rex ancestor.
Horse sized, weighing about 250 kg, with long legs built for speed and a skull studded with sharp teeth, the fossil presented one more thing of great interest to the team of paleontologists. Apparently, the creature’s brain was highly developed, showing evidence of great intelligence and extremely highly developed senses.
While the first tyrannosaurs appeared around 170 million years ago, they were barely bigger than a human. So they focused on intellect, developing their intelligence and sensory capacities at the expense of their size. But during the species’ evolution, the animals started adding to their size without losing any of their intelligence.
So, about 100 million years after first appearing, the tyrannosaurs had evolved into the highly intelligent, massive creatures that were to rule the late Cretaceous Period. The small, human-sized tyrannosaurs evolved into the smart, bigger-than-7-tonns behemoths that were the Albertosaurus or the king himself, the T. rex.
Saint Petersburg State University’s Professor Alexander Averianov explained why this stage in the T. rex’s evolution remained a mystery for so long:
The middle Cretaceous is a mysterious time in evolution because fossils of land-living animals from this time are known from very few places. Uzbekistan is one of these places. The early evolution of many groups like tyrannosaurs took place in the coastal plains of central Asia in the mid Cretaceous.
Image source: Wikimedia