Is Tyrannosaurus more than one species of dinosaur?
Tyrannosaurus was first identified over a century ago, and paleontologists have long considered the dinosaur to be a single species: the mighty T. rex that terrified children everywhere when Jurassic Park hit the big screen. in 1993. However, a new study claims that what we call Tyrannosaurus could be three separate species of dinosaurs.
The research paper, published Tuesday in Evolutionary Biology, examines the variations found in about three dozen different Tyrannosaurus fossils. The analysis conducted by the trio of researchers “favors several species” of Tyrannosaurus rather than just one. They dubbed the two new species T. imperator, or “tyrant lizard emperor,” and T. regina, or “tyrant lizard queen.”
However, other paleontologists disagree with the researchers’ conclusions.
“Ultimately, to me, this variation is very minor and does not indicate meaningful biological separation of distinct species that can be defined on the basis of clear, explicit, and consistent differences,” said Steve Brusatte, a paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh, quoted by Reuters.
While the article, and the new species of Tyrannosaurus it presents, have not been well received by the scientific community, the controversy highlights the fact that the identification of new species is often less clear cut than it is. doesn’t seem like it.
“It is concerning that this is controversial due to the charismatic status of T. rex, but on the other hand, the study would not receive as much attention otherwise,” noted independent paleontologist Gregory Paul, lead author of the paper.
Museum curators who oversee Tyrannosaurus specimens have also said they won’t rename specimens based on new research.