This poor dinosaur was probably mocked on the prehistoric playground. According to scientists, a new member of the Tyrannosaurus family has been identified by a fossil discovered in Jiangxi province in China, and it has a rather funny-sounding nickname: Pinocchio Rex. No, the dinosaur wasn’t a wooden puppet that later turned into a real boy. That nickname was chosen because of its longer snout—its skull was more elongated that that of a T. rex, so scientists had a little fun with it. The dino’s actual name was Qianzhousaurus sinensis (in homage of a Chinese city), and is said to have stalked China near the end of the dinosaur age.
Scientists say the Pinocchio rex measured up to 30 feet long, with a long snout and lots of horns on its skull, which was different from the short-snouted T. rex. “It tells us that tyrannosaurs were more ecologically variable then we previously thought,” said paleontologist Steve Brusatte. Possible Pinocchio rex skulls have been found before, but scientists were unable to determine what species of dinosaur it was because they were considered juvenile. The newest fossil, however, solves that debate, now giving enough information to rewrite history.
Researchers believe the Qianzhousaurus may have lived about 66 million years ago, just before an asteroid came and wiped out every remaining dinosaur. It’s possible the fossils found by paleontologists may have witnessed the asteroid impact, which is believed to have been a space rock about six miles wide. Since it is considered to be smaller than a T. rex, scientists believe the Pinocchio rex had a different diet—but you still “wouldn’t want to run into it.”
“Although we are only starting to learn about them, the long-snouted tyrannosaurus were apparently one of the main groups of predatory dinosaurs in Asia,” said Junchang Lu, another paleontologist familiar with the recent fossil.