The “King of Gore.” That’s what scientists have dubbed a newly unveiled species of dinosaur with its Latin name, Lythronax argestes.
It’s an apt moniker for a dinosaur that was Tyrannosaurus rex‘s great uncle, has banana-sized teeth, and a “skull … designed for grabbing something, shaking it to death, and tearing it apart,” Mark Loewen, a University of Utah paleontologist, told the AP.
Lythronax argestes was discovered four years ago in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah, and was revealed to the public for the first time Wednesday at the Natural History Museum of Utah in Salt Lake City. After finding the fossils in 2009, a team of paleontologists had worked to dig up more bones and confirm that they came from a new species.
So what did the “King of Gore” look like? The dinosaur was covered in scales and feathers and stood 24 feet long and 8 feet tall at the hip—a little smaller than T-rex, but otherwise similar in appearance. And if that’s not enough to make Lythronax argestes seem like one of the scariest dinosaurs around, when the AP asked Loewen what Lythronax argestes ate when it lived, he replied, “Whatever it wants.”
Paleontologists think the “King of Gore” lived in central North America 80 million years ago during the late Cretaceous Period, meaning scientists were originally wrong about when huge “tyrant” dinosaurs first appeared. “This shows that these big, banana-tooth bruisers go back to the very first days of the giant tyrant dinosaurs,” said paleontologist Thomas Holtz Jr. Lythronax argestes proves that giant dinosaurs like T-Rex existed 10 million years earlier than previously thought. “This one is the first example of these kind of dinosaurs being the ruler of the land.”
The rock formation where the new discovery was made has produced other dinosaur species (like the oldest-known triceratops, Diabloceratops), and it looks like it’ll be a rich source of new dinosaurs in years to come. With only 10 percent of the 1 million-acre area scavenged so far, scientists think other dinosaurs are there just waiting to be found.
“We are just getting started,” paleontologist Alan Titus said. “We have a really big sandbox to play in.”