Meet the T. rex cousin who you could literally look down on

The new dinosaur is called Suskityrannus hazelae, named after the Zuni word for coyote

History’s most frightening dinosaur, the Tyrannosaurus rex, came from a long line of pipsqueaks.

Scientists have identified a new cousin of the T. rex as a dinosaur that only reached the 3-foot height of a toddler. If it stretched its duck-billed head, an adult human maybe “would be looking at it in the eye,” said Sterling Nesbitt, a paleontologist at Virginia Tech, who discovered the dinosaur.

READ MORE: TIMELINE: A look back at Science World ahead of its 30th anniversary

Nesbitt found a set of its bones in 1998 when he was 16, while serving as a volunteer on a dig in New Mexico with a famed paleontologist. But for about two decades, scientists weren’t certain what it was, until other small cousins of T. rex were discovered.

“The small group of tyrannosauroid dinosaurs would give rise to some of the biggest predators that we’ve ever seen,” said Nesbitt, lead author of a study in Monday’s journal Nature Ecology and Evolution .

The new dinosaur is called Suskityrannus hazelae, named after the Zuni word for coyote. It dates back 92 million years, about 20 million years before the T. rex stomped the Earth.

The newly discovered cousin — which was three times longer than it was tall — weighed between 45 and 90 pounds, almost nothing compared to the nine-ton king of the dinosaurs.

Suskityrannus hazalae isn’t the first or even smallest of the Tyrannosaurus family tree, but Nesbitt said it provides the best example of how this family of modest-sized dinosaurs evolved into the towering horror of movies, television shows and nightmares.

Smithsonian Institution paleobiologist Hans Sues, who wasn’t part of the study, said it was an important find. “Suskityrannus is the first really good record of the early tyrannosaurs in North America,” he wrote in an email.

It is unclear why these carnivores, which weren’t particularly big compared with other dinosaurs alive at that time, later evolved to be so enormous.

Nesbitt said the newly discovered species is probably among the last of the little guys. It was bigger than earlier tyrannosauroids and had big feet needed for speed — something the T. rex lost.

By Seth Borenstein, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Photo Submitted by the Gord Bamford Foundation)
Lacombe’s Gord Bamford to perform a virtual concert for a good cause

The concert aims to raise awareness for Operation Santa Clause

Alberta Health Services' central zone jumped from 162 active COVID-19 cases to 178 on Friday. Five additional deaths were reported provincewide, bringing the toll to 323. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
622 new COVID-19 cases set another daily high Friday

Province confirmed 622 additional cases Friday

(Photo submitted)
Rimbey resident avid author despite Parkinson’s

Wins more accolades for her writing

“Pumpkin” is available for adoption at Old MacDonalds Kennels. (Facebook photo)
Old MacDonald Kennels sounding the alarm over number of cats in care

An expansion is underway at Old MacDonald Kennels

Alberta children whose only symptom of COVID-19 is a runny nose or a sore throat will no longer require mandatory isolation, starting Monday.
477 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Alberta on Thursday

Changes being made to the COVID-19 symptom list for school-age children

Over the years, Janice Blackie-Goodine’s home in Summerland has featured elaborate Halloween displays and decorations each October. (File photo)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about Halloween?

Oct. 31 is a night of frights. How much do you know about Halloween customs and traditions?

Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer
Five-year-old boy fighting cancer celebrates Halloween with reverse trick-or-treating in Wetaskiwin

Wetaskiwin Fire Department made a special stop for Dawson Jackson.

A man runs across the Carcross Dunes in Carcross, Yukon, on July 2, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘No manual or checklist:’ Yukon ditching fall time change this year

The territory decided to adopt year-round daylight time in March

Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains makes an announcement regarding vaccine procurement, in Toronto, on Wednesday, Aug., 5, 2020. Despite its status as an artificial intelligence hub, Canada has yet to develop a regulatory regime to deal with issues of privacy, discrimination and accountability to which AI systems are prone, prompting calls for regulation from businesses and experts. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov
Canada crawling toward AI regulatory regime, but experts say reform is urgent

5 million images of shoppers collected without consent at Canadian malls

FILE - In this Jan. 23, 1987 file photo, actor Sean Connery holds a rose in his hand as he talks about his new movie "The Name of the Rose" at a news conference in London. Scottish actor Sean Connery, considered by many to have been the best James Bond, has died aged 90, according to an announcement from his family. (AP Photo/Gerald Penny, File)
Actor Sean Connery, the ‘original’ James Bond, dies at 90

He died peacefully in his sleep overnight in the Bahamas

<strong>Spooky spectacles:</strong> Halloween decorations seen around Ponoka. Photos by Karen Douglass
PHOTOS: Ponoka ready for Halloween

Spooky spectacles: Halloween decorations seen around Ponoka. Photos by Karen Douglass By… Continue reading

(Photo Submitted by the Gord Bamford Foundation)
Lacombe’s Gord Bamford to perform a virtual concert for a good cause

The concert aims to raise awareness for Operation Santa Clause

City of Wetaskiwin Mayor presenting the AUMA Above & Beyond Award to John Maude and Susan Quinn. Ren Goode/ City of Wetaskiwin.
Wetaskiwin County residents win the AUMA Above & Beyond Award

John Maude and Susan Quinn are being recognized for their role in Wetaskiwin’s sustainability.

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday October 28, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Erin O’Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs

Most Read