DEERFIELD, IL (January 29, 2010) -- New Mexico is known for amazing local cuisine, Aztec ruins and the Los Alamos National Laboratory. In the January issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, paleontologists Thomas Williamson of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Thomas Carr of Carthage College bring a new superstar to the state. Bistahieversor sealeyi (pronounced: bistah-he-ee-versor see-lee-eye) is a brand new species of tyrannosaur discovered in the Bisti/De-na-zin Wilderness of New Mexico. Tyrannosaurs include the famous meat-eating dinosaur movie-stars like T. rex, and their characteristic body and skull shape (not to mention that mouthful of ferocious teeth!) make them easy for paleontologists and kids to recognize. The skull and skeleton of Bistahieversor were collected in the first paleontological excavation from a federal wilderness area, and the specimen was airlifted from the badlands by a helicopter operated by the Air Wing of the New Mexico Army National Guard. “Bistahieversor sealeyi is the first valid new genus and species of tyrannosaur to be named from western North America in over 30 years,” says Williamson.
Tyrannosaurs are best known from 65-75 million year old sediments from the Rocky Mountain region of North America. Bistahieversor provides important insights into the evolutionary history of the group. “Bistahieversor is important because it demonstrates that the deep snout and powerful jaws of advanced tyrannosaurs like T. rex were special adaptations that evolved around 110 million years ago, after the eastern and western halves of North America were separated by a shallow sea,” says Carr. Bistahieversor was different from other tyrannosauroids in having an extra opening above its eye, a complex joint at its “forehead,” and a keel along its lower jaw; it also had more teeth than its distant relative T. rex.
Bistahieversor skulls and skeletons collected from the Bisti/De-na-zin Wilderness and from the lands of the Navajo Nation are currently on display at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History.
ABOUT THE SOCIETY OF VERTEBRATE PALEONTOLOGY
Founded in 1940 by thirty-four paleontologists, the Society now has more than 2,300 members representing professionals, students, artists, preparators, and others interested in VP. It is organized exclusively for educational and scientific purposes, with the object of advancing the science of vertebrate paleontology.
The Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology
The Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology (JVP) is the leading journal of professional vertebrate paleontology and the flagship publication of the Society. It was founded in 1980 by Dr. Jiri Zidek and publishes contributions on all aspects of vertebrate paleontology.
Dr. Thomas Carr
Assistant Professor, Biology, Carthage College and
Director, Carthage Institute of Paleontology
Dr. Thomas Williamson
Curator of Paleontology
New Mexico Museum of Natural History
1. Bistahieversor skull.
The skull of the holotype specimen (NMMNH P-27469) of Bistahieversor sealeyi on display in the Cretaceous Seacoast exhibit at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. Photo by David Baccadutre, New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.
2. Helicopter lift 1.
Helicopter of the Air Wing of the New Mexico National Guard carrying a field jacket that contains portions of the holotype specimen of Bistahieversor sealeyi (September, 1998). Photo by Ray Nelson.
3. Helicopter lift 2.
Field jacket containing portions of the holotype specimen of Bistahieversor sealeyi being prepared for an air lift by the Air Wing of the New Mexico National Guard (September, 1998). Photo by Ray Nelson.
4. Group photo.
Group photo of Dr. Thomas Williamson (front row, standing in black t-shirt) with his crew with a field jacket containing portions of the holotype of Bistahieversor sealeyi in the Bisti/De-na-zin Wilderness Area of New Mexico (September, 1998). Photo by Ray Nelson.
5. Plate of holotype and juvenile.
The skulls of the holotype (NMMNH P-27469) and juvenile (NMMNH P-25049) specimens of Bistahieversor sealeyi, a new genus and species of deep-snouted tyrannosauroid from the Late Cretaceous of New Mexico. Carbon dust by Dino Pulerà.
6. Holotype cover art.
The meter-long skull of the holotype (NMMNH P-27469) of Bistahieversor sealeyi, a new genus and species of deep-snouted tyrannosauroid from the Late Cretaceous of New Mexico. Carbon dust by Dino Pulerà.