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Photos: Tiny Tyrannosaur Dinosaur Was About As Big As T. Rex's Skull

Tiny predator

tiny tyrannosaur

(Image credit: Andrey Atuchin)

An artist's interpretation of the tiny tyrannosaur, dubbed Suskityrannus hazelae. In the background are a small horned dinosaur known as Zuniceratops and the hadrosauromorph Jeyawati.

[Read more about the tiny tyrannosaur]

Bone display

tiny tyrannosaur

(Image credit: Virginia Tech)

The fossilized bones of S. hazelae, which lived about 92 million years ago in what is now western New Mexico.

High school discovery

tiny tyrannosaur

(Image credit: Virginia Tech)

Study lead researcher Sterling Nesbitt, an assistant professor of geosciences at Virginia Tech, holds the partial skull of S. hazelae. Nesbitt found this particular specimen while he was a 16-year-old high school student in 1998.

Big jaw, little jaw

tiny tyrannosaur

(Image credit: Virginia Tech)

S. hazelae was small compared to its giant relative, Tyrannosaurus rex. Notice how small the partial skull of S. hazelae is (top) compared with a cast of a full-size partial jaw of T. rex (bottom).

Future paleontologist

tiny tyrannosaur

(Image credit: Hazel Wolfe)

Nesbitt found the fossils of S. hazelae when he was a teenager. The 1998 dig was led by Doug Wolfe, of the Zuni Dinosaur Institute for Geosciences in Springerville, Arizona, who is also an author on the new study.

The claw

tiny tyrannosaur

(Image credit: Virginia Tech)

The fossilized claw of S. hazelae.

Tiny beast

tiny tyrannosaur

(Image credit: Andrey Atuchin)

The dinosaur stood about 3 feet (1 meter) tall at the hip and measured about 9 feet (3 m) long from snout to tail. The S. hazelae discovery is helping researchers understand how tyrannosaurs started small and then became huge over millions of years of evolution.

Skeletal reconstruction

tiny tyrannosaur

(Image credit: Scott Hartman)

A skeletal reconstruction of S. hazelae. Researchers have discovered two individuals of this tiny (at least by T. rex standards) dinosaur. Nesbitt found one and Robert Denton, now a senior geologist with Terracon Consultants, an engineering consulting firm in New Jersey, found a partial skull of another individual in 1997.