Man eating beast in the deserts of Utah
Dr. Lindsay Zanno, director of Paleontology and Geology Research Laboratory at the North Carolina Museum of Nature Science, has discovered a giant mega-predator that lived 100 million years ago: Siats Meekarorum! In 60 years, it is the largest mega-predator to be discovered in the US and the second or third largest predator EVER found in North America.
Dr. Zanno and her crew were looking at fossils in the deserts of central Utah when in 2008 they discovered a new dinosaur. Two years later the Siats was dug up and plastered. From 2010 to 2013, they revealed the skeleton. After lots of research and writing, on November 22, 2013 they announced the discovery of Siats Meekarorum. “All of us scientists are bored with –saurus names,” Dr. Zanno stated. “Out of the dinosaurs I have named, none end in –saurus; they all are unique names.”
Siats ruled about 100 million years ago, sometime between the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. There are tens of millions of years between those periods, and we know little of what lived in this mysterious time. But now we do know: the man-eating beast who terrorized the T. Rex for millions of years! In this time, a whole unknown ecosystem composed of unique groups of dinosaurs thrived. One such group is the Carcharadontosaurs, the group that contains the Siats and some of the largest known predatory dinosaurs.
Now, did I mention the Siats terrorizing the T. Rex? That is true. Only after the mighty Siats had gone extinct could the Great Dane-sized Tyrannosaurs evolve into the giant T. Rexes we hear of today. Before that, Tyrannosaurs were the smaller predator surviving, because it couldn’t compete with the Siats.
The Siats was found in the sun-scorched deserts of central Utah. This is a great spot for digging up fossils not only because of the exposed rock and sparse vegetation, but also because lots of dinosaurs died in this area. There is a Native American legend about a man- eating monster originating from the area. That is why Dr. Zanno chose this name for the giant.
There are still lots of questions about the time when the Siats was top-dog, and about what – and who – lived back then. Paleontologists worked through 130o heat and monsoon rains to uncover only one skeleton out of thousands more that are yet to be found. So, hooray for Dr. Lindsay Zanno and for Siats Meekarorum!