A gigantic predatory dinosaur that was much larger than the Tyrannosaurus rex has been identified. Named Ulughbegasaurus, its fossilized jaw was believed to have been found by a Russian paleontologist during a dig back in the 1980s in Uzbekistan. The jaw remained in the country’s State Geological Museum until recently being analyzed and identified by researchers. Based on 3D modelling between the teeth and jaw, they were able to determine that it was an entirely new dinosaur species.
Approximately 90 million years ago when the Ulughbegasaurus roamed the Earth, it was so massive that it may have even preyed on the Tyrannosaurus rex as explained by Darla Zelenitsky who is a professor of paleontology at the University of Calgary, “They probably kept the tyrannosaurus down, they were obviously better apex predators.”
Based on the size of its jaw, it is believed that Ulughbegasaurus measured 7.5 to 8 meters long (24.6 to 26.2 feet) and weighed over 1,000 kilograms (2,205 pounds). During that time 90 million years ago, the Tyrannosaurus rex had not yet completely evolved into the large creature that we all know so well as it only measured 3 to 4 meters (9.8 to 13.1 feet) from its nose to the tip of its tail and weighed less than 200 kilograms (441 pounds). Zelenitsky described the size differences between the two dinosaur species by stating, “It was like a grizzly bear compared to a coyote.”
In addition to its massive size, Ulughbegasaurus had terrifying shark-like teeth that made its hunting and eating habits much different than the Tyrannosaurus rex as Zelenitsky explained, “It had slashing bites with blade-like teeth, whereas T-rex’s jaws were more for crushing bones.”
The Ulughbegasaurus species went extinct approximately 89 million years ago and while its demise is unclear, scientists have theorized that it may have had something to do with the change in the environment or perhaps a decline in its prey numbers. “Prey species like herbivorous dinosaurs may have changed if flora or vegetation changed, for example,” Zelenitsky noted, adding, “The disappearance of (Ulughbegasaurus) likely allowed tyrannosaur species to become the apex predators of Asia and North America some 80 to 90 million years ago, who persisted in large forms like Albertosaurus, Gorgosaurus, and T-rex.”
It’s very significant and exciting that such a large dinosaur has been found after all these years. (An illustration of what the Ulughbegasaurus would have looked like can be seen here.)