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T. Rex Has A Cousin In China, Researchers Say

<strong>Do I Know You?</strong> An animatronic baby <em>Tyrannosaurus Rex</em> gives students a close look during a preview of the Australian show <em>Walking With Dinosaurs</em> in Melbourne last week.
Mark Dadswell
Getty Images
Do I Know You? An animatronic baby Tyrannosaurus Rex gives students a close look during a preview of the Australian show Walking With Dinosaurs in Melbourne last week.

A predatory dinosaur has been named a relative of Tyrannosaurus rex ,based on the discovery of a skull and jaw bones that paleontologists say are very similar to those of the famous carnivore. The jaw contains teeth that are some 4 inches in length.

As reported by the BBC, the prehistoric animal, named Zhuchengtyrannus magnus,was found in Zhucheng, a city in eastern China's Shandong Province. The name is translated as "Tyrant from Zhucheng."

Here's a quote from Cretaceous Research, where the paper announcing the discovery was published:

Comparisons with other tyrannosaurids suggest that Zhuchengtyrannus was a very large theropod, comparable in size to both Tarbosaurus and Tyrannosaurus.

It's exciting news, but doesn't it seem like we've heard something similar recently? Back in January, a two-clawed "cousin" of the T. Rex was found in China, in the form of the Linhenykus monodactylus.

And in 2009, our own Christopher Joyce reported on how Even T. Rex Started Small, after another fossil found in China proved the existence of a small-scale T. rex predecessor that shared its signature powerful jaws and long legs.

In that story, paleontologist Paul Sereono said that the T. rex model was a good one for other predators to follow: "What we can now say," he said then, "is that this is a body blueprint for a predator — jaws on legs as it were — that is one of the most successful of the Mesozoic."

Or maybe it's just like an aphorism heard on MTV's Cribs: When you get famous, everybody wants to be your cousin.

If it were around today, I would excuse the T. rex for wondering where all these "cousins" were when its survival was on the line. And then, you know, I'd debate whether I should run from it, or stand perfectly still, so it couldn't perceive me as prey.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.