Long-nosed dinosaur is cousin of T. rex

Scientists have discovered a species of long-snouted dinosaur which stalked the Earth more than 66 million years ago.

The animal, nicknamed Pinocchio rex, belonged to the same family as Tyrannosaurus rex.

It was a fearsome carnivore that lived in Asia during the late Cretaceous period.

New specimen

The ancient predator had an elongated skull and long, narrow teeth compared with the deeper, more powerful jaws and thick teeth of a conventional T. rex.

Palaeontologists were uncertain of the existence of long-snouted tyrannosaurs until the remains of the dinosaur - named Qianzhousaurus sinensis - were unearthed in China.

Until now, only two fossilised tyrannosaurs with elongated heads had been found, both of which were juveniles. The new specimen is of an animal nearing adulthood.

New group

Experts say Qianzhousaurus sinensis lived alongside deep-snouted tyrannosaurs but would probably have hunted different prey.

Researchers have created a new branch of the tyrannosaur family for specimens with long snouts, and they expect more new dinosaurs to be added to the group.

Qianzhousaurus sinensis lived until around 66 million years ago when all of the dinosaurs became extinct, likely as the result of a deadly asteroid impact.

This is a different breed of tyrannosaur: It has the familiar toothy grin of T. rex, but its snout was much longer and it had a row of horns on its nose. It might have looked a little comical, but it would have been as deadly as any other tyrannosaur, and maybe even a little faster and stealthier.

Dr Steve Brusatte

Chancellor's Fellow in Vertebrate Palaeontology at the University of Edinburgh

Findings from the study are published in the journal Nature Communications.

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