Experts have discovered what they believe are the remains of the oldest relative of the meat-eating T-Rex dinosaurs in Brazil.
The ‘godfather’ of the T-Rex is the Erythrovenator which is thought to have lived 230 million years ago and grown to a size of around six and a half feet long.
Aside from its razor sharp teeth and claws, the dinosaur was also covered in bristles. It is thought the be the first meat-eating dinosaur to exist.
Palaeontologist Dr Rodrigo Muller of the Federal University of Santa Maria, Brazil, said the dinosaur comes from the dawn of the dinosaur age.
‘This is the lineage of scary and carnivorous dinosaurs, like Tyrannosaurus and Velociraptor of Jurassic Park fame,’ he said.
He added: ‘But the Erythrovenator was around almost 150 million years before them. It comes from the dawn of the dinosaur age.’
The discovery of theropod fossils from this long ago are extremely rare, and experts believe this will shed fresh light on the evolution of the land predators.
Muller said that despite the dinosaur’s small size, it was an alpha predator which largely feasted on lizards, insects and other primitive mammals.
‘It was a fast and vicious hunter, with strong leg muscles. The animal had sharp and blade-like teeth, like other early theropods. We believe its skin had feather-like structures,’ he said.
Experts said an analysis of the bones showed that the dinosaur could be most likened to a miniature Tyrannosaurs Rex. It also shared traits with the Velociraptor and Spinosaurus dinosaurs shown in Jurassic Park III.
‘You could say it is ‘The Godfather of T Rex,’ Muller said.
The fragmented remains, including a thigh bone which is the longest and strongest in the body, were dug up at a farm in Brazil’s southernmost state, Rio Grande do Sul.
Alongside the dinosaur fossils, experts also discovered the remains of several other animals, some of which the Erythrovenator would have preyed on.
This includes the remains of cynodonts, a wolf-like fanged plant-eater.
Research shows that the Erythrovenator may not have had any predators itself.
‘So far, the only evidence from the site of an animal that may have eaten Erythrovenator is an isolated large tooth. It probably belongs to a big, primitive crocodile,’ Dr Muller said.
He said the discovery ‘provides a window into how dinosaurs got started’, but more analysis is due to be carried out.
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