Fossil range: Early Cretaceous
Hutt et al., 2001
Eotyrannus (meaning "dawn tyrant") was a genus of tyrannosauroid theropod dinosaur hailing from the Early Cretaceous Wessex Formation beds, included in Wealden Group, located in the southwest coast of the Isle of Wight, United Kingdom. The remains (MIWG1997.550), consisting of assorted skull, axial skeleton and appendicular skeleton elements, from a juvenile or subadult, found in a plant debris clay bed, were described by Hutt et al. in early 2001.
The etymology of the generic name refers to the animal’s character as an "early tyrant", while the specific descriptor is a mention to the discoverer of the fossil.
Eotyrannus is a 6 meter-long theropod which has the following tyrannosauroid characters: serrated premaxillary teeth with a D cross section, proportionally elongate tibiae and metatarsals. Primitive characters for Tyrannosauroidea are the elongate neck vertebrae and the long, well-developed arms forelimbs along with the undecorated dorsal surface of the skull, unlike the more advanced tyrannosaurids. However this animal, proportionally, has one of the longest hands in Theropoda known to date.
E. lengi’s find corroborates the notion that early tyrannosauroids were gracile with long forelimbs and three-fingered grasping hands, although the somewhat large size of the animal either means that early evolution for this clade was carried out at a large size or Eotyrannus developed large size independently. The find of this animal in Europe puts interesting questions to the purported Asian origin for these animals along with North American Stokesosaurus and European Aviatyrannis arguing for a more complex biogeography for tyrannosauroids.