A newly identified dinosaur with razor-sharp teeth towered over other predators.
Meet Ulughbegsaurus (ooh-loog-bek-SORE-us) uzbekistanensis (ooz-BEH-kih-stan-en-sis). The species was the biggest known meat eater in Central Asia about 90 million years ago—and the most fearsome predator of its time. It belonged to a family of dinosaurs known for their sharklike chompers.
The dinosaur—nicknamed Yuzzy by one of the paleontologists who identified it—stretched about 25 feet long, weighed more than 2,200 pounds, and walked on two legs. It lived during the middle of the Cretaceous period—about 24 million years before Tyrannosaurus rex. T. rex's relatives that lived at the same time as Yuzzy were also predators, but they were tiny in comparison to the big beast. Yuzzy was about five times heavier.
“Yuzzy was at the top of the food chain,” says paleontologist Darla Zelenitsky. She’s one of the scientists who identified the species after analyzing a bone fragment unearthed decades ago in the desert in Uzbekistan, a nation in Asia.
So far, scientists only have one piece of Yuzzy: part of its jawbone. But that fragment tells them a lot. Yuzzy’s full upper jawbone was more than one-and-a-half feet long, confirming the dinosaur’s top predator status. “Yuzzy also had funky ridges on its upper jaw” indicating it may have had scales on its face, adds Zelenitsky.
Yuzzy’s identification is key because few dinosaur species from 85 million to 125 million years ago have been found.
“Any new dinosaur species discovered from this time helps [us] understand how these animals changed during the Cretaceous period,” Zelenitsky says.