Pygmy Tyrannosaurus rex fossils discovered in Arctic Circle

By Kyle Johnson,

Paleontologists unearthed pieces of a miniature Tyrannosaurus rex that lived in the Arctic Circle about 70 million years ago.

The pygmy T. rex has been named Nanuqsaurus hoglundi, which translates to "polar bear lizard," reports the Smithsonian. It was discovered by Athony Fiorillo back in 2006 who found pieces of a skull and jaw in northern Alaska.

Fiorillo and his colleague Ronal Tykoski published a study in Plos One where they argue that the smaller N. hoglundi should be considered its own species.

The dinosaur is still pretty large as it likely grew to be about 60 percent of the T. rex, which would mean the N. hoglundi was about 23 feet long from snout to tail. According to Nature, the smaller size might be accounted for the differences in environment, such as about half a year of darkness and then six months of light and scarcer food supply.

Fiorillo said, "There was something about that environment that selected for tyrannosaurs developing a smaller body size."

They also know the size is not simply a young T. rex as the remains dug up had a peg-and-socket pattern on the jaw that is something only ever seen in adult animals.

Still the size is interesting, as the National Geographic notes that animals living at the Poles tend to be of a much larger size. Paleontologist Matt Lamanna said, "In the modern world you tend to find big stuff at the Poles, and it's interesting that in the Cretaceous world that may not hold true."

image: Screenshot

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