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Despotosaurs, Kith and Kin



We all know and love our tyrannosaurs, and anyone who's seen Jurassic Por -- I mean, Park -- knows these things. Indeed, Tyrannosaurus rex is the 31 ranking most favorite dinosaur in the world, and in history. Save before the 1900's, there was no other truly popular dinosaur, and before it, only scientists really cared about dinosaurs. It wasn't until the popularization in the early 1900's that children, and laypeople, and scientists of other fields, and indeed most everyone in Europe and North America, half of Asia, northern Africa, and even portions of South America, and finally Australia, fell in love with the newest and possibly one of the first tourist attractions: The gorgeous free-standing Tyrannosaurus rex mount designed by C. R. Knight and H. F. Osborn. Even after, the next most astounding skeleton mount would be another Tyrannosaurus rex, that of the infamous "Sue", largest and oldest of its species.

But these are classic tyrannosaurids. Some have been recovered in Mexico, one was found as far flung as Alberta and New Jersey from the American West from whence they first came, and they are known throughout the Plains Provinces of Canada, also in the West. Then they found them in Asia, where they are known in Mongolia and northern China and fragments from Russia. But they were all large, massive animals, over 25 feet in length and bulky. Some smaller ones have been found -- Nanotyrannus lancensis, Shanshanosaurus houyanshanensis, and Alioramus remotus -- but they may end up just as babies, teenagers on the dinosaur timeline.

Then they found one in Europe ... and the finds haven't stopped. They've gotten smaller, hairier, fluffier, and they've been found with a third finger, not the classic two-fingered "wiggler" Ray Harryhausen showed off in his movies Creation and Caveman. The arms are longer, and the head did not look the way they used to ...

Above, we see some tyrannosaur skulls and some possibly related kin, not quite tyrannosaurs but showing off many features we see in "early" tyrants. Call them ... despotosaurs, not yet full-fledged dominators, but little annoying pests nonetheless, mini-tyrants.

Perhaps more shocking is that these animals are also OLD, known over 80 million years before there ever was Tyrannosaurus rex. And one was sporting headgear...

Shown in order are two "coelurids" at the top, Tanycolagreus topwilsoni and Ornitholestes hermanni, both from the Late Jurassic Morrison Formation of the American West. Then there is Dilong paradoxus on the left, one of those fluffy despotosaurs, with a three-fingered arm, known from China's Liaoning Formation, Early Cretaceous. Then there was Proceratosaurus bradleyi, from the Middle Jurassic of Dorset, England. And finally, on the right, two skulls of the crested, oddest, and oldest, despot, Guanlong wucaii, known from China's Junggar region of the western region of the country, near Mongolia, in the Shishugou Formation, Late Jurassic and older than Dilong. Them tyrants were sporting some wicked 'dos.

I haven't included Eotyrannus lengi from the Early Cretaceous of England's Isle of Wight, Sussex County, yet, because I need photos of the material.
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RickRaptor105's avatar
Wow, this is great!

But how can there be 30 dinosaurs more favourited than T. rex?