Were the Siats meekerorum in Spielberg’s Jurassic Park, you have to wonder if any of the characters would have made it off the island alive.
Siats meekerorum is a new species of carnivorous dinosaur recently discovered by Lindsay Zanno, a North Carolina State University paleontologist, and Peter Makovicky, a paleontologist from the Field Museum of Natural History.
Most interestingly, Siats meekerorum was top dog (or dinosaur) in its day, even keeping tyrannosaurs in their place.
“It’s been 63 years since a predator of this size has been named from North America,” says Lindsay Zanno, who’s also the lead author of a Nature Communications paper describing the find. “You can’t imagine how thrilled we were to see the bones of this behemoth poking out of the hillside.”
Zanno and Makovicky found the partial skeleton in Utah’s Mountain Formation in 2008. While Siats is named after a cannibalistic man-eating monster from Ute tribal legend, meekerorum acknowledges the Meeker family for their support of paleontologists at the Field Museum.
The bones Zanno and Makovicky found would have belonged to a dinosaur over 30 feet long that weighed at least four tons. The scary part? These bones aren’t even from an adult Siats — they’re from a juvenile.
Zanno and Makovicky theorize an adult Siats could be as big as the Acrocanthosaurus — a carcharodontosaurs (like Siats) that approached 40 feet in length and 6.8 tons.
“The huge size difference certainly suggests that tyrannosaurs were held in check by carcharodontosaurs, and only evolved into enormous apex predators after the carcharodontosaurs disappeared,” says Makovicky.
The Tyrannosaurus rex, which would have weighed twice the amount of the Siats that Zanno and Makovicky found, came along 30 million year after the Siats.
“We have made more exciting discoveries including two new species of dinosaur,” Makovicky says.
“Stay tuned,” adds Zanno. “There are a lot more cool critters where Siats came from.”
Read more about the Siats meekerorum at the North Carolina State University website.