In this article we will talk about what would be the smallest representative of the dreaded family of the Tyrannosaurs.

I hope you like this article and learn more about the Nanotyrannus.


What does the name Nanotyrannus mean?

The meaning of this name is “little tyrant”, a name derived from the Greek Νάνος (Nános) which is understood as “dwarf/small” and from the Greek τυράννου (tyránnou) which is understood as tyrant.

History of the Nanotyrannus discovery

The first fossil was discovered in 1942 and consisted of a small skull, which was originally related to a Gorgosaurus lancensis (now Albertosaurus) by Charles W. Gilmore in 1946.

Robert T. Bakker, Phillip Currie, and Michael Williams re-described the discovery in 1988 and concluded that the bones of the skull suggested that it was an adult animal.

So this group of researchers established a new genus, which they called Nanotyrannus because of its small size.

However, other researchers doubted this classification and often assumed that Nanotyrannus is a juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex. The skull is now on display at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

In 2001, a group of researchers at the Burpee Museum of Natural History discovered a more complete and 50% preserved specimen of Nanotyrannus, which they called “Jane”.

The find consists of a complete skull 57.2 centimeters long and other skeletal material.

At a conference held at the Burpee Museum on the validity of Nanotyrannus, many paleontologists such as Phillip Currie and Donald Henderson saw the new discovery as confirmation that Nanotyrannus must be a juvenile Tyrannosaurus Rex or a closely related species.

Peter Larson, on the other hand, continued to support a separate genus for Nanotyrannus.

Research is currently being conducted by Bakker, Larson and Currie, but has not yet been published.

This could clarify whether Nanotyrannus is a valid genus, a young Tyrannosaurus rex or a new species in an already known genus of Tyrannosaurs.

Today, Jane is on display to the public at the Burpee Museum.

Is it really a new genus?

Below, we will talk about the different points that some scientists have established to relate or differentiate this dinosaur with the genus Tyrannosaurus rex. We list them below:

Teeth: The nanotyrannus had more teeth in both the upper and lower jaws than an adult T-Rex.

In fact, the Nanotyrannus had between 14 and 15 teeth in its jaws, while the T. Rex had only 11 to 12 teeth in each jaw.

Growth rate: In a study by paleontologist Carr on the growth of different Tyrannosaurids, he shows, for example, that Gorgosaurus libratus, as it grew, reduced its number of teeth.
That said, the study suggests that while Nanotyrannus had more teeth than an adult T. REx, it could easily lose them through development, as did other dinosaurs in that family.

Again, relating this small dinosaur to the adult version.

Development and teeth have nothing to do with it: Another group of studies found that when it came to tarbosaurus bataar, both in its juvenile and adult stages, there were no differences in the number of teeth.

So the factor – loss of teeth with development – according to this research group is not relevant to determine closeness or differences between one species or another, at least as far as this case is concerned; since they can be individual factors and are not directly related to growth.

A young tarbosaurus skull found in 2006 supports this statement, as no differences in the number of teeth were found between the adult skulls that were already present in relation to the number of teeth.

Giving more validity to this statement.

Unique feature of the skull: one aspect that differentiates Nanotyrannus is that it had a small hole in its skull, located in the square jugal bone at the back of the skull.

This feature was also seen in the skull of the “Jane” fossil, so it can be seen that this was a normal pattern in this dinosaur.

Although it may be a juvenile characteristic that is lost with development into adulthood, in the analysis made to some young Tyrannosaurs this feature has not been found.

Hopefully more information will be found that will reveal whether T.Rex and Nanotyrannus are the same or whether they are totally independent genera.

When did the Nanotyrannus live?

This small dinosaur lived in the final stages of the Cretaceous, some 67 to 65 million years ago, in the era known as the Maastrichtian.

What did the Nanotyrannus eat?

This dinosaur, like the other dinosaurs in its family, was a carnivore and fed on smaller dinosaurs that did not have large defenses.

Though some paleontologists, like Bakker claim that the Nanotyrannus may have hunted in herds, as some teeth of several nanotyrannus individuals were discovered in the bones of the herbivorous dinosaurs.

So it can be suggested that it could easily feed on dinosaurs that outgrow it in size and strength.

Nanotyrannus Description

It is the smallest member of the tyrannosaurid family, with a bare 57-centimetre skull.

The size of the animal is estimated at 3 meters in height and 5 meters in length with an approximate weight of 500 kg.

A fast and agile runner, it probably attacked its prey from behind, with its mouth wide open.

Its powerful and muscular neck absorbed the shock while its teeth leaned back in the flesh of its victim.

Like other tyrannosaurs, Nanotyrannus had small arms that ended in two tapped fingers.

A few curiosities about the Nanotyrannus

In Robert J. Sawyer’s work entitled “The Quintaglios”, highly evolved dinosaurs of great intelligence evolved from the Nanotyrannus.

The Nanotyrannus made its appearance in chapter two of the documentary series Jurassic Fight Club, a series that presents different aspects about prehistoric predators.

In this chapter you can see the Nanotyrannus fighting against two young T.rex.