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Carnotaurus

Build & Characteristics

  • Carnotaurus means “meat-eating bull” because of the distinct pair of thick horns over its eyes.
  • Carnotaurus measured up to 30 feet (9 meters) long, 10 feet (3 meters) tall, and weighed up to 4000 pounds (2 tons). That’s twice the size of a white rhino!
  • The Carnotaurus had forward facing eyes, which was not common among dinosaurs. This would have given them good depth perception and binocular vision.
  • One other distinct characteristic was Carnotaurus’ tiny fore limbs. They were even shorter than the Tyrannosaurus Rex! These appendages looked to be only for show, and lacked any claws for gripping prey.
  • To make up for Carnotaurus’ short arms, they had unusually long, sleek, and powerful legs. Their thighs could weigh up to 300 pounds driving them to be the fastest in their weight class, traveling speeds up to 35 miles per hour. That’s almost the speed of a greyhound! They were able to sprint as fast as a kangaroo while weighing as much as two tons.
  • Carnotaurus was one of the only identified horned Theropod (Bipedal Carnivore).
  • As fast as Carnotaurus was its bite wasn’t very powerful compared to other dinosaurs of the time but still had the bite force twice that of an American alligator.
  • The skin of Carnotaurus was found to be scaly and reptilian. Most Theropods of the time possessed feathers while Carnotaurus did not.

History

  • Carnotaurus lived during the Maastrichtian period in the late Cretaceous period (72 million years ago) in what is currently Patagonia and Argentina.
  • By the time Carnotaurus evolved, other meat eaters were smaller, only a few hundred pounds or less, making Carnotaurus the largest carnivore in their ecosystem.
  • The Carnotaurus would have lived in a lagoon and lake dominated environments, while the temperature was warm with wet and dry seasons.
  • Other animals that Carnotaurus lived alongside included snakes, turtles, and even early mammals. This provided Carnotaurus with a very rich diet in comparison to other Theropods.
  • Scientists have theorized that Carnotaurus hunted in packs to take down much larger prey that looked like the North American Brachiosaurus.

Discovery

  • The first Carnotaurus specimens were found in 1985 by José Bonaparte in Argentina.
  • Only one specimen of Carnotaurus has been found and included fossil impressions of its skin.