A new study argues that what we know as Tyrannosaurus rex is actually a cluster of three species. The division is based on physical differences between the 37 fossil specimens found to date, plus there’s some variation in the age of the rocks in which the fossils were found. The researchers, led by paleoartist Gregory Paul, propose Tyrannosaurus imperator as the oldest and more robust species, with Sue as its holotype; the other two species, T. rex and T. regina, were contemporaneous, with T. regina the more gracile of the two (T. rex’s holotype is unchanged, T. regina’s is the Wankel Rex). The proposal is contentious to say the least: the best coverage of the debate I’ve seen comes from National Geographic’s Michael Greshko.
Another well-known specimen, Stan, would also become T. regina. Stan more or less disappeared from public view when he was auctioned for $31.8 million in October 2020. At the time no one knew who the buyer was, but Greshko (again: working full-time at the tyrannosaur desk) managed to work it out from trade records: Stan went to the United Arab Emirates. It’s just been confirmed that he’ll be the star of a new natural history museum now under construction in Abu Dhabi.
Update: Riley Black is tired of talking about T. rex, in a Slate piece that echoes something she wrote for the Grauniad eleven years ago: that there’s more to dinosaurs, and there’s other dinosaurs, than T. rex.