Tyrannosaurus rex may have reigned as “king of the tyrant lizards” 65 million years ago, but 185 million years before that, a reptile about the size of an iguana was the king of Antarctica.
At least that’s the message contained in the name of a fossil that’s described in a newly published research paper — and is now part of the permanent collection at Seattle’s Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture.
The fossil was collected during an expedition to the frozen continent led by Christian Sidor, who is the museum’s curator of vertebrate paleontology as well as a biology professor at the University of Washington. Sidor and two colleagues, the University of the Witwatersrand’s Roger Smith and Brandon Peecook of Chicago’s Field Museum, laid out the story behind the fossil in a paper published today by the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
Antarctanax shackletoni takes its scientific name from the ancient Greek words for “Antarctic king” and from early-20th-century polar explorer Ernest Shackleton.