Scientists have concluded after examining an illicitly excavated Chinese fossil, that Raptorex kriegsteini, the predecessor of the feared gargantuan Tyrannosaurus rex, was a similarly configured "mouth on legs" no bigger than a typical human - about 150 pounds worth of bad attitude.
This contradicts the conventional wisdom about how T. rex developed. Earlier scholarship assumed the animal had a huge head and tiny, comical arms because its skeleton had to adapt that way in order to survive as a very large predator. The new observations, published Thursday in the journal Science, turn that theory on its head. Dr. Stephen Brusatte of the American Museum of Natural History in New York said "In short, much of what we thought we know about tyrannosaur evolution turns out to be either simplistic or out-and-out wrong."
Now there's a new mystery. Over the course of 60 million years, a huge growth spurt happened. But what could make humble human-sized creatures swell to such mythic proportions? The floor is open for theories.
My own hypothesis has to do with those undersized, embarassingly inadequate arms. Raptorex kriegsteini may have become involved in something that had wild, unintended side effects.
Perhaps this document, recovered with the fossil, explains it all.
Ever fall for an offer that was, in the end, too good to be true?