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Tyrannosaurus rex cousin: Incredible new fossil discovery stuns researchers

Tyrannosaurus rex cousin was recently discovered in Alaska and the amazing find challenges everything scientists know about dinosaurs. A relatively small Tyrannosaur reigned in the Arctic 70 million years ago and this dinosaur, named Nanuqsaurus hoglundi, was the height of a modern man, according to a March 14 report from CNN.

The newly found dinosaur was much smaller than its fearsome counterpart Tyrannosaurus rex or T. rex, paleontologists, who reported the find in the journal PLOS One, said.

Tyrannosaurus, which means "tyrant lizard" in Greek, has captured the attention of researchers for many years but most of the knowledge about this group comes from fossils of low and middle latitudes of North America and Asia.

Remains from Tyrannosaurus rex cousin were unearthed on a bluff above the Colville River in northern Alaska, in the area of Prince Creek Formation. Upon an initial examination of the top of the skull, the maxilla and mandible, paleontologists first thought they belonged to a different species until they compared the fossils to known species of Tyrannosaurs.

"I find it absolutely thrilling that there is another new dinosaur found in the polar region," paleontologist Anthony Fiorillo said in a statement from the Perot Museum. "It tells us that the ecosystem of ancient Arctic was a very different place, and it challenges everything we know about dinosaurs."

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One skull of the savage creature, described as a "polar bear lizard," measured two feet long, compared to more than 1.5 meters from T. rex. Scientists speculate that it mostly moved over land in the dark where rain, frost and snow were frequent, probably had a strong sense of smell and sharp vision to hunt prey at night.

The discovery of Tyrannosaurus rex cousin is really interesting because it tells scientists a lot about the environment that existed in the ancient Arctic. But what is even more captivating about this discovery is that the Nanuqsaurus hoglundi reveals important information about the biological richness of the polar world during that time, when the Earth was much warmer than today.

"You're always trying to disprove what you're thinking, and then when you run out of ways to disprove it, you have to really accept that you have what you think you have," Fiorillo said.