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Build & Characteristics

  • Acrocanthosaurus’ name means “high-spined lizard” because of the unusually high spines on many of the vertebrae in its back
  • Measured up to 38 feet (11.5 meters) long and 18 feet (6 meters) tall, and weighing up to five thousand pounds. That’s more than an African Elephant and as long as four cars!
  • This bipedal carnivore (Theropod) was the biggest predator around. Its head measured 5 feet long and had many sharp serrated teeth with the edges resembling knives.
  • With its strong arms and powerful back legs the Acrocanthosaurus ran after its prey with the help of its long tail to keep its balance.

History

  • Acrocanthosaurus lived during the Early Cretaceous (145 to 66 million years ago) in what is now the Southwest United States including Texas, Arizona, Wyoming, and even found as far east as Maryland.
  • These giants roamed alongside Hadrosaurs (Duck-billed dinosaurs) and Sauropods (Huge, lumbering, four-footed plant eaters) both of which would have become Acrocanthosaurus’ lunch.
  • It is theorized that their large vertebrae helped to support its muscles, keep them cool, and may have helped them appear larger and more intimidating.

Discovery

  • Acrocanthosaurus was first discovered in the 1940’s by paleontologists excavating in the deserts of Oklahoma.
  • It was largely ignored until 1950 where J. Willis Stovall and Wan Langston Jr. found a very large vertebrae segment.
  • You are able to see the most completed specimen at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, where they have nicknamed her “Fran”.