New Dinosaur Species Discovered in China

Long lost cousin of the T. Rex once roamed North America and East Asia.

April 4, 2011 -- A giant new dinosaur has been identified by paleontologists in China, and chances are you wouldn't have wanted to make it angry.

Similar in size to the Tyrannasaurus rex, the newly discovered carnivorous teropod most likely stood 13 feet tall and 36 feet long, weighing in at 12,000 pounds.

"It was about T. Rex's size, but probably a little bit smaller," said David Hone from University College of Dublin, Ireland, who led the team that discovered it and published his findings in the journal Cretaceous Research. "It's about the closest thing to a T. Rex there is."

The dinosaur ran on its two hind legs and had puny arms and has been named Zhuchengtyrannaus magnus, which translates "Tyrant from Zhucheng." Its bones were found in a quarry in the city of Zhucheng, in eastern China's Shangdong Province, at the site of the largest concentration of dinosaur bones in the world. The area is believed to have once been a floodplain where thousands of dinosaur bodies washed together.

"It's an important find. Any time you find a new taxon, it's kind of a big deal" conceded Mark Norell curator of paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. "Zhucheng is an amazing place and we are at a nascent stage of understanding everything that Zhucheng is going to provide for us in the future."

Along with the T. Rex and the Asian Tarbosaurus, itself discovered in the 1950s, the Zhuchengstyrannus magnus has been classified as a tyrannosaurine, giant carnivorous beasts that roamed North America and eastern Asia during the Late Cretaceous Period, 99 to 65 million years ago.

Hone and his team were able to identify the new species going off of a small specimen -- fragments of skull and bone-crushing jaw that were highly similar to its cousin the T. Rex. That was enough to recognize the team was dealing with a different species because tyrannasaurines are identified largely by their maxillae, or mouthparts.

He compared the differences between the two dinosaurs to the difference between two species of large cats.

"If you ripped the skin off a lion and a tiger, you couldn't tell them apart; they're really similar indeed," he told ABC News. "You've got to know your big cat anatomy to really tell them apart."

But, as with the tyrannosaurine, you probably don't need to know much else to admit you probably wouldn't have wanted one as a pet.