Raptorex kriegsteini is the name of the recently discovered, alleged missing link on the way to the fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex.1 It is supposed to be a missing link between the so-called basal (primitive) tyrannosauriods (such as Guanlong, Dilong, and Xiongguanlong) and the large tyrannosaurids (such as Albertosaurus, Daspletosaurus, and Tyrannosaurus). It was very similar to the larger and much more famous Tyrannosaurus, sharing features such as the large head (the two even had similar, but not identical, skull shapes), small forearms, huge back legs, and large olfactory bulbs. Raptorex, which was described recently in the journal Science, also shares with T. rex “a proportionately large skull, incisiform premaxillary teeth, expanded jaw-closing musculature, diminutive forelimbs, and hindlimbs with cursorial proportions.”2 Despite the similarities, Raptorex is miniscule compared to its 40-foot-long look-alike — it was only about 9 feet long and probably weighed only 150 pounds.3
The missing link claims are backed up by the supposed age of the fossil (125 million years old — 60 million years older than T. rex is alleged to be). Paul Sereno said
It’s as close to the proverbial missing link on a lineage as we might ever get for T. rex…From the teeth to the enlarged jaw muscles, the enlarged head, the small forelimbs, the lanky, running, long hind-limbs with the compressed foot for hunting prey: we see this all, to our great surprise, in an animal that is basically the body weight of a human or 1/90th the size that ultimately this lineage would reach in T. rex at the end of the Cretaceous.1
Sereno also said Raptorex shows that the body design of tyrannosaurs evolved at “basically our bodyweight. And that’s pretty staggering, because there’s no other example that I can think of where an animal has been so finely designed at about 100th the size that it would eventually become.”3
But are the missing link claims justified? The claims really rest only on the age of the fossil, since Raptorex and Tyrannosaurus are very similar and there is little, if any, morphologic justification for the idea that they are anything other than members of the same created kind.4 Most creationists are probably familiar with the many problems inherent in the dating of rocks and fossils, but this fossil cannot even be dated!….
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