In words I never thought I’d say, the palaeontology girlies are fighting because some scientists want to split the T. rex into three different species. Let’s have a sip of this tea, shall we?
The T-Rex has been the only genus of Tyrannosaurus since the dinosaur’s first description way back in 1905.
Now, a group of three researchers who examined more than three dozen T. rex fossils have published a study which suggests that actually, there are two new species: T. imperator (“tyrant lizard emperor”) and T. regina (“tyrant lizard queen”). Yes, T. regina is the more “gracile” species…
Why the T. rex species needed gendered names, I don’t know, but I digress.
T.rex when it realizes the other Tyrannosaurus it’s fighting is T. imperator and not T. regina pic.twitter.com/CywnESNx5T
— JoJira 🦖 (@Goji_Saurus) March 1, 2022
The new T. rex species differ like lions and tigers, which share the same genus Panthera but have different species names: leo and tigris.
The group’s lead palaeontologist Gregory Paul said that the difference mentioned in the study imply some kind of Darwinian evolution.
“After over a century of all specimens being placed into one species without the issue being carefully examined, the first and only analysis finds that the variation in Tyrannosaurus is beyond the norms for dinosaurs, and is distributed over time in a manner that indicates that Darwinian speciation from one [species] to two new species had occurred before the final dinosaur extinction cut off further evolution,” he said.
The study has been controversial to say the least, with other palaeontologists dishing some ~thoughts~.
“Most of us would predict that yeah, there probably should be multiple species of Tyrannosaurus rex … The real question is, does this paper do a really rigorous job of doing that?” Lindsay Zanno, a palaeontologist at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, said per National Geographic.
“I would argue that the paper is relatively unconvincing.”
University of Edinburgh palaeontologist Steve Brusatte also rejected the study.
“It’s hard to define a species, even for animals today, and these fossils have no genetic evidence that can test whether there were truly separate populations. Until I see much stronger evidence, these are all still T. rex to me, and that’s what I’ll be calling them,” he said, per The Sydney Morning Herald.
Most of my Tyrannosaurus reconstructions have been of Sue or heavily based on Sue, which was dubbed T. imperator in the Paul paper. Here is a quick sketch of Stan (T. “regina”) and Sue (T. “imperator”). pic.twitter.com/pIih1mfMP8
— Gabriel N. U. (@SerpenIllus) March 1, 2022
Wisconsin’s Carthage College palaeontologist Thomas Carr, whose 2020 study directly argues against multiple T. rex species, didn’t hold back in his response, either.
“Perhaps most damning is the fact that the authors were unable to refer several excellent skulls to any of the three species,” Carr said, per SMH.
Oh, I love academia beef so much.
“If their species are valid, then more than just two features should identify them: nearly every detail – especially in the head – should be different,” he said.
In another article by the National Geographic, Carr was quoted saying: ““It’s just shades of gray and shapes in clouds—there’s no validity here at all.”
Well there ya have it folks. Whether or not the T. rex is actually made up of multiple species, the most compelling part of new discoveries is always the inter-scientist drama that comes with it. At least, for me.