Tyrannosauridae - Distribution

Distribution

While earlier tyrannosauroids are found on all three northern continents, tyrannosaurid fossils are known only from North America and Asia. Sometimes fragmentary remains uncovered in the Southern Hemisphere have been reported as "Southern Hemisphere tyrannosaurids," although these seem to have been misidentified abelisaurid fossils. The exact time and place of origin of the family remain unknown due to the poor fossil record in the middle part of the Cretaceous on both continents, although the earliest confirmed tyrannosaurids lived in the early Campanian stage in western North America.

Tyrannosaurid remains have never been recovered from eastern North America, while more basal tyrannosauroids like Dryptosaurus and Appalachiosaurus persisted there until the end of the Cretaceous, indicating that tyrannosaurids must have evolved in or dispersed into western North America after the continent was divided in half by the Western Interior Seaway in the middle of the Cretaceous. Tyrannosaurid fossils have been found in Alaska, which may have provided a route for dispersal between North America and Asia. Alioramus and Tarbosaurus are found to be related in one cladistic analysis, forming a unique Asian branch of the family.

Of the two subfamilies, tyrannosaurines appear to have been more widespread. Albertosaurines are unknown in Asia, which was home to the tyrannosaurines Tarbosaurus and Alioramus. Both subfamilies were present in the Campanian and early Maastrichtian stages of North America, with tyrannosaurines like Daspletosaurus ranging throughout the Western Interior, while the albertosaurines Albertosaurus and Gorgosaurus are currently known only from the northwestern part of the continent.

By the late Maastrichtian, albertosaurines appear to have gone extinct, while the tyrannosaurine Tyrannosaurus roamed from Saskatchewan to Texas. This pattern is mirrored in other North American dinosaur taxa. During the Campanian and early Maastrichtian, lambeosaurine hadrosaurs and centrosaurine ceratopsians are common in the northwest, while hadrosaurines and chasmosaurines were more common to the south. By the end of the Cretaceous, centrosaurines are unknown and lambeosaurines are rare, while hadrosaurines and chasmosaurines were common throughout the Western Interior.

Read more about this topic:  Tyrannosauridae

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