The 'Reaper of Death' Found in Canada
Mon, August 15, 2022

The 'Reaper of Death' Found in Canada


In 2008, Sandra and John De Groot were strolling along a lakeshore in Alberta, Canada, joking that it looked like a dinosaur jaw. But, much to their surprise, it was indeed a dinosaur jaw poking up through the ice. “It was just kind of this ‘Wow’ moment of ‘Holy cow! You actually did find some teeth laying here on the ground,'” Mrs. De Groot, a substitute teacher who’s collected bones and ammonites in the past, said. 


Photo Credits: All That's Interesting


However, it took two years for the dinosaur jaw to be donated to the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Drumheller. It happened after Donald Henderson, a paleontologist at the said museum, gave a talk in Mrs. De Groot’s school. It would then take nearly a decade before anyone was able to take the bones out of storage and properly inspect them. A study, led by Calgary University Ph.D. student Jared Voris, published in the journal Cretaceous Research revealed that the dinosaur jaw was far more comparable to the tyrannosaurs unearthed in the southern US than those found up north in Canada.


Photo Credits: @RoyalTyrrell on Twitter via All That's Interesting


The team observed that the dinosaur jaw was different from the other dinosaur fossils found in Alberta -- a place known for an abundance of tyrannosaur fossils. According to All That’s Interesting, a site for curious people who want to know more about what they see on the news or read in history books, experts believe that the distinction in skull shape is likely due to dietary differences and the available prey.

“There are very few species of tyrannosaurids, relatively speaking. Because of the nature of the food chain, these large apex predators were rare compared to herbivorous or plant-eating dinosaurs,” Darla Zelenitsky, assistant professor of Dinosaur Palaeobiology at the University of Calgary, said. 


Photo Credits: All That's Interesting


The researchers discovered that the jaw belonged to a tyrannosaur that lived about 79 million years ago called Thanatotheristes degrootorum, also known as the “Reaper of Death.” This pushes the tyrannosaur family's history back by about 10 million years. It was named the Reaper of Death primarily because of its place in the prehistoric food chain. “We chose a name that embodies what this tyrannosaur was as the only known large apex predator of its time in Canada, the reaper of death,” Zelenitsky said.




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