'King of gore' T. rex's oldest known cousin

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The newly found tyrannosaur weighed about 2.5 tonnes and was 8 metres long (Source: Andrey Atuchin)

A new species of tyrannosaur has been unearthed in Utah, with skull bones showing an 80 million-year-old beast that is the oldest known cousin of the legendary T. rex..

The meat-eating Lythronax argestes, which means "king of gore," had wide-set eyes that helped it track prey and a load of teeth packed into a more slender snout than T. rex, researchers write in the journal PLOS ONE.

The Lythronax was among the lighter, more compactly built tyrannosaurids, and may have been about half as heavy as the largest T. rex.

The beast weighed about 2.5 tonnes and was 8 metres long, says the research team led by Mark Loewen, adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Utah.

Its bones - including parts of the skull, hips, leg and tail - were found in the Wahweap Formation within the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in south-central Utah.

"The width of the back of the skull of Lythronax allowed it to see with an overlapping field of view - giving it the binocular vision - very useful for a predator and a condition we associate with T. rex," says Loewen.

It was also older - T. rex roamed the Earth about 10 to 12 million years later, researchers say.
Tyrannosaurids ran upright on two legs and had short arms, and attacked other dinosaurs as well as scavenging the carcasses of dead animals for food.

Researchers say they likely originated in northern Laramidia, then a swampy and humid island which is now western North America.

Several species likely moved south over time, while others made their way toward Asia 70 to 75 million years ago.



Silver Dragons

Monday, November 11, 2013

Silver dragons epitomize all that is good and holy in the spheres. Even more than treasure, they crave guidance and law. They live by rules placed upon them by trusted allies because they hunger for absolutes. Some humans mistakenly call silver dragons the paladins of dragons, but doing so ignores the very fact that silver dragons existed long before paladins and follow codes more limiting than humans can fathom. Silver dragons are not the paladins of their race; paladins are the pale imitators of silver dragons.
-Drakanav Codex, Chapter 19

Often called the paladins of dragons, silvers embody the loftiest ideals, such as justice, honor, valor, and mercy. Silver dragons do not hesitate to strike down irredeemable evil, nor do they fail to stay their magnificently lethal claws when foes beg for clemency. As beacons of virtue and gifted with the courage of righteousness, silver dragons draw others around them in times of war. In the long history of conflict between the metallics and chromatics, silvers form the vanguard and backbone of the metallic armies. Silver dragons fight with honor and grace, never reluctant to enter battle to uphold the tenets of goodliness or law. 

From the moment of their hatching, silver dragons are keenly aware of what the world expects of them. They must remain ever courageous, even in the face of death. They cannot act dishonorably, for doing so shames not only them but their entire kind. At every opportunity they must obey draconic law and that of the lands in which they find themselves, and strive to ensure that others do so as well. The Powers That Be expect them to punish those who willfully break laws or otherwise act against the common good, but in a way both merciful and just. All this they know instinctively, and it is a testament to the supreme power of their convictions that they not only accept the heavy weight of responsibility placed upon them by Apsu and the universal concepts of Good and Law, but frequently push for even loftier duties. 

Sleek and beautiful, silver dragons shine like mirrors, reflecting the sun from their silvery white scales and acting as actual beacons of light when all else is dark. This minor glow makes them easy to find on a battlefield and gives their allies a landmark around which they can rally. That it tends to draw the strongest foes also plays into the honorable nobility of silvers, as they prefer to battle the foulest evils personally. Like the metal with which they are frequently compared, however, the shining scales of silver dragons dull easily, losing their luster and turning a pallid gray. This dulling typically reflects the state of the silver's soul, and thus those who begin to lose their sheen are gently advised by their comrades to "polish their scales" (a polite way of suggesting they speak with someone in order to refresh and refocus their minds and spirits).

Black Dragons

"Hatred drives them like a barbed whip, pushing them ever forward to wallow in the toils of sadism and evil." Thus draconic scholar Atarvex described the race of black dragons nearly nineteen millennia ago. His account seems apt, all these centuries later. Sadists even beyond the cruelties attributed to the frightening reds, black dragons seem to gain greater sustenance from the sufferings of others than the food consumed by other creatures. They perform their evil acts for no greater reason, it seems, than merely to cause hurt.
-Drakanav Codex, Chapter 11

Sociopaths and murderers of the worst sort, black dragons terrorize their territories with a fury few other dragons bother to muster. The dragon kind most likely to rampage, black dragons combine the short tempers of their white dragon cousins with a superior intellect and greater physical prowess. Cruel in ways their less-intelligent kin cannot contemplate and far less sophisticated than the greater chromatics, black dragons delight in causing physical and mental pain. These horrible sadists use their frightful presence and acidic breaths to crack minds and burn bodies, all the while cackling gaily and reveling in the despair and torment they create. 

Black dragons are the epitome of villainy, committing evil for evil's sake, and they require no greater motivation to pillage and plunder than simply because they can. Where white dragons lash out from a sense of frustration and red dragons launch into their murderous rampages in order to exert their dominance, black dragons kill because they want to. Some black dragons find offense in the most innocent comments and consider every real or imagined slight (and black dragons possess inventive minds) justification enough to cause localized genocide. Attempts to communicate with black dragons require continuous and unending supplication and groveling, and even then most creatures that try end up as captives, subjects of bizarre but unmistakably creative tortures, or food. 

Possessing distinctively large curving horns growing out the sides of their skulls just behind their jaws, black dragons strike impressive and easily recognized silhouettes. Aside from their iconic horns, black dragon faces possess as much individualism as those of any other dragon kinds. Most black dragons grow many smaller horns and hornlets all around their heads and faces, while a small number only gain their two major horns and no others. A few black dragons deliberately crack or break their horns (causing themselves considerable pain) and then let the sharp protrusions heal at jagged and unnatural angles. Black dragons tend to have relatively short necks and tails and thick, muscular bodies. Most black dragons' toes are connected by thick membranes of webbed skin that help them glide through the brackish waters of their homes.