(ORDO NEWS) — In March of this year, the paleontological community was pretty excited by the news that the well-known dinosaur species, the famous Tyrannosaurus rex, can be divided into three different types: “king”, “emperor” and “queen”.
Now, a rebuttal study has come out that argues that differences between fossils aren’t enough to separate individual species of tyrannosaurs.
Tyrannosaurus rex is undoubtedly the most famous species of dinosaur: the success of the film “Jurassic Park” brought him worldwide fame, making him one of the few species of prehistoric animals that are familiar even to people with little interest in paleontology.
The more interesting was the article published in March of this year , the main author of which was the famous American paleontologist Gregory Paul ( Gregory Paul ): according to his conclusions, the difference between different individuals of a tyrannosaurus rex is so great that they probably belonged to three closely related species of these animals.
The new species were named by analogy with the tyrannosaurus rex itself, the “tyrannosaurus king”: Tyrannosaurus imperator , that is, “tyrannosaurus emperor”, and Tyrannosaurus regina , “tyrannosaurus queen”.
Now the journal Evolutionary Biology published a rebuttal article written by a team of scientists led by Thomas Carr ( Thomas Carr ), an expert on tyrannosaurs.
After revisiting data from the March study and comparing it with data from 112 bird species and four non-avian dinosaur species, the researchers concluded that Paul’s team made gross errors due to limited comparative sampling, inconsistent measurements, and faulty statistical methods.
It turned out that the variability of the skeletal remains of a Tyrannosaurus rex is no greater than that of modern birds, its closest living relatives, and the distinguished species features of the “emperor” and “queen” are too blurred to clearly distinguish the three species from each other.
In addition, taxonomists sometimes cannot even agree on the number of species that exist (for example, between one and eight species of giraffes are distinguished), so that in the case of fossil species, the problem of separating one species from another becomes even more difficult.
Most likely, both “emperor” and “queen” are only examples of individual (regional, sexual) variability of ancient animals, and much more substantial evidence is required to really consider them separate species.
Until that evidence is presented, the Tyrannosaurus rex will remain as it has been for the past hundred years, the only species of its kind.
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