A decade ago, two Canadians found dinosaur bones while walking along the beach. They alerted the Royal Tyrrell Museum, which promptly stashed the find in their collection as T-Rex bones. Little did they know what they had been sitting on was the goddamn Reaper of Death.
The newly-identified species is thought to have been slightly smaller than its cousin, the Tyrannosaurus Rex, and would’ve lived 79 million years ago, making it the oldest member of the family found on the continent.
It would have dominated the food chain in Canada at the time, researchers reckon, devouring large herbivores like the Xenoceratops and Colepiocephale. The prey look equally gnarly tbh.
Hence why researchers christened it Thanatotheristes degrootorum, after the Greek god of death, Thanatos. They added “theristes”, Greek for “reaper”, to the end of the name because apparently the name wasn’t terrifying enough.
“This animal would have absolutely been an imposing creature in the ecosystem that it lived in and it would very likely have been the apex predator,” the research group’s leader, PhD candidate Jared Voris told CBC News. “It was really nice to have some sort of name that encapsulated that kind of behaviour.”
If that’s a tongue-twister, you’re in luck. “The nickname has come to be Thanatos,” UCalgary assistant professor of dinosaur palaeobiology Darla Zelenitsky told AFP.
The new discovery is actually a big deal. It’s the first new species of the family found in Canada in the last 50 years. Apex predators were rarer than their prey, so fewer species are thought to have existed. The identification of Thanatos means members of this family were more diverse than once thought.
Image: Getty Images / Ian West