The phylogeny and evolutionary history of tyrannosauroid dinosaurs

Stephen Brusatte, Thomas D. Carr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Tyrannosauroids—the group of carnivores including Tyrannosaurs rex—are some of the most familiar dinosaurs of all. A surge of recent discoveries has helped clarify some aspects of their evolution, but competing phylogenetic hypotheses raise questions about their relationships, biogeography, and fossil record quality. We present a new phylogenetic dataset, which merges published datasets and incorporates recently discovered taxa. We analyze it with parsimony and, for the first time for a tyrannosauroid dataset, Bayesian techniques. The parsimony and Bayesian results are highly congruent, and provide a framework for interpreting the biogeography and evolutionary history of tyrannosauroids. Our phylogenies illustrate that the body plan of the colossal species evolved piecemeal, imply no clear division between northern and southern species in western North America as had been argued, and suggest that T. rex may have been an Asian migrant to North America. Over-reliance on cranial shape characters may explain why published parsimony studies have diverged and filling three major gaps in the fossil record holds the most promise for future work.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2016


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