June 21, 2009

Carnivorous dinosaur’s teeth discovered

Museum officials in Japan say fossilized teeth from an ancestor of the tyrannosaurus have been found in the Hyogo Prefecture.

Museum of Nature and Human Activities officials said the teeth found in Tamba were inside strata thought to be up to 140 million years old, Kyodo reported Sunday.

Curator Haruo Saegusa said the fossils indicate the carnivorous dinosaur they came from was likely nearly 16.5 feet long.

Saegusa added if the fossils' age was similar to that of the strata it was discovered in, the finding would represent an early ancestor of the tyrannosaurus, the Japanese news agency said.

If the dinosaur belongs to the same era as the strata, the tyrannosaurus could have started to grow larger much earlier than thought, Saegusa said.

Kyodo reported the tens of millions of years thought to separate the fossilized dinosaur from the later tyrannosaurus age may indicate the earlier dinosaur may have been evolving.