Wee rex. Awwww.

I stole the name from Reuters, but it was Joel Achenbach at Washington Post that first pointed me toward the news that they’ve found a miniature “missing link” tyrannosaur:

Fossils of the new dinosaur, dubbed Timurlengia eutoica, were found in the central Asian nation of Uzbekistan. The species appears to have been about the size of a horse, and without the absurdly huge head and the industrial-strength jaws of T. rex. But its brain case indicates that it was rather intelligent, like T. rex, and had many of that dinosaur’s advanced sensory abilities, including the ability to hear low-frequency sounds.

The discovery strongly suggests that tyrannosaurs got smart before they got large.

Timurlengia — named for the 14th century conqueror Tamerlane — lived about 90 million years ago. The scientists describe it as a forerunner, or remote cousin, of T. rex rather than a direct ancestor.

The fossil hunters did not find a full skeleton. Rather, they just have scraps of Timurlengia — remnants of many animals scattered in the bone beds.

Using a CAT scan, [Stephen Brusatte, a University of Edinburgh paleontologist,] determined that this tyrannosaur had anatomical features suggesting advanced sensory skills.

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