At the time of dinosaurs, food chains had a wide variety of predators at their peak. Some of these are undoubtedly the T.rex and the Torvosaurus. A recent study, however, brought to the scene a new dominant species of the upper Cretaceous, before the rise of the tyrannosaurs, that is the predator from the “sardi di shark” (shark teeth).
The fossils of the creature, called Ulughbegsaurus uzbekistanensis(of which you can find a representation in the cover image by the illustrator Julius Csotonyi), were found in the years Only in 2019 did a research team bring him back to life, deepening his study, whose conclusions have been reflected in today’s research.
The species lived about 90 million years ago and, thanks to its remarkable dimensions, was the predator at the apex of the food chain in the Asian regions, competing only with the smallest species of tyrannosaur of the time. One of these was the Tyrannosaurus Timurlengia, contemporary of U. uzbekistanensis, but with the smallest dimensions, which could reach the 4 meters long and less than 200 kg of weight (much smaller than the ferocious T. This allowed researchers to assume that the new species was at the apex of its ecosystem, thanks to its considerable dimensions, which have been estimated, by the analysis of the jaw portion, in 8 meters of length and a weight of 1000 kg. The most peculiar characteristic of the new species, however, is represented by serrated teeth, similar to those of sharks.
The analysis of the jaw also suggests that the new species may be part of the carcharodontosaurus, a genus of theropods with characteristic shark. These were remotely related to the tyrannosaurs and competed with them in the food chain.
Kohei Tanaka, the principal author of the study and assistant professor at the University of Tsukuba in Japan, said “Our discovery indicates that carcharodontosaurus were still dominant predators in Asia 90 million years ago.”
Darla Zelenitsky, professor of paleobiology at the University of Calgary and co-author of the study, on the affinity between the new species and tyrannosauri, said the two groups But compared to the tyrannosaurs of the time, the carcharodontosaurus, were more massive than the tyrannosaurs, with estimates of weight attested, and sometimes higher, at 6 tons. Later, the carcharodontosaurus saw their end and thus began the rise and development of the tyrannosaurs, which, having no competitors and growing in size, became the dominant predators in Asia and North America.
Below you can admire the image of a piece of jaw belonging to the predator, created by Kohei Tanaka and the research group.
And did you know that a theory about one of the most well-known carnivorous dinosaurs has recently been dissected after 150 years?