A terrifying flesh-eating dinosaur as big as a bus that roamed Earth 115 million years ago has been unearthed in Thailand.
The giant beast was related to Tyrannaouys Rex – and devoured its plant-eating relatives just like its famous cousin.
It had enormous jaws, serrated teeth up to eight inches long and long claws.. It was identified from the remains of at least four individuals.
They included the skull and spine – as well as limb and hip bones. The fossils were dug up at a dinosaur graveyard in the north eastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima.
Named Siamraptor suwati, it may have rivalled T Rex – which is now believed to have originated in Asia.
It was more than 26 feet long and weighed at least three-and-a-half tons. It belonged to a group known as the carcharodontosaurs.
These include some of the biggest known carnivorous dinosaurs – as big and ferocious as T Rex.
Speaking from Thailand, study lead author Dr Duangsuda Chokchaloemwong, of Nakhon Ratchasima Rajabhat University, said:
‘Siamraptor would have been more than 8 metres long and weighed at least 3.5 tons.
‘It lived around 115 million years ago in the Khorat Basin. The climate would have been sub-tropical or tropical and semi-humid.
‘It lived by hunting the plant-eating dinosaurs such as iguanodontians. And yes, we do believe Siamraptor was an apex predator at that time.’
The new species described in PLOS ONE sheds fresh light on the early evolution of carcharodontosaurians.
These large predatory dinosaurs were widespread and successful for more than 130 million years – until the asteroid strike that wiped them all out.
Palaeontologist Dr Chokchaloemwong, of Nakhon Ratchasima Rajabhat University, said they were important members of ecosystems on multiple continents.
But their fossil record is notably lacking – with no definitive ones from Southeast Asia during the early Cretaceous when Siamraptor lived.
It was confirmed as a previously unknown dinosaur after comparison with other known species.
The beast would have been a fast mover – running on its hind legs to catch prey just like T Rex.
Siamraptor also had short, strong arms that ended with long claws. Its head ended in a long snout.
T. rex would have been bigger – typically growing to around 39 feet (12 metres) in length.
Dr Chokchaloemwong said: “Physical and genetic analysis indicates Siamraptor is a basal member of the carcharodontosaurs.
‘This means it represents a very early evolutionary split from the rest of the group.
‘It is also the first definitive carcharodontosaur known from Southeast Asia.
‘Combined with similarly-aged finds from Europe and Africa, it reveals this group of dinosaurs had already spread to three continents by the Early Cretaceous’