About 90 million years ago, during the Cretaceous period, a gigantic dinosaur with ‘shark-like’ teeth roamed modern-day Uzbekistan, says a new study. The carnivorous dinosaur was 7.5-8 meters long and weighed 1,000 kg – which would make it slightly longer than an African elephant and heavier than two fully grown buffaloes. The researchers were surprised by the beast’s size, as it was much larger than the ecosystem’s previously known vertex predator: a tyrannosaurus. It was nearly twice as long and five times heavier, the researchers found after studying the jaw.
These findings were published in The Royal Society journal this week and researchers named the beast Ulughbegsaurus uzbekistanensis, after Ulugh Beg, a 15th-century astronomer-mathematician. The researchers studied the jaw, found in the Kyzylkum Desert of Uzbekistan in the 1980s, and said the carnivore Ulughbegsaurus walked on two legs, with a large head, short forelegs. and sharp claws. It was a dinosaur with “shark teeth”, also known as carcharodontosaur. These carnivores were related and also competitors of tyrannosaurs, whose famous species is the T-rex..
Researchers say that Ulughbegsaurus – an theropod characterized by its hollow bones and three-toed limbs – it would have been the largest carnivorous predator at the time. And the little tyrannosaurs that lived during the same period would have been a fifth of their body mass. It’s still a mystery what made Ulughbegsaurus extinct, but its disappearance has resulted in tyrannosaurs growing larger and becoming the dominant predator in Asia and North America.
The researchers noted that this is the first Carcharodontosaurus (a dinosaur with shark teeth) discovered in Central Asia. Other dinosaur species, such as tyrannosaurs, lived at the same time and place, but they were several times smaller than Ulughbegsaurus. This discovery is also the last known occurrence of a Carcharodontosaurus and a Tyrannosaurus living together in the same geography. Researchers hope the discovery will unlock more knowledge about this period.