Carnotaurus

Carnotaurus Sastrei life size model on display at the Western Australian Museum.

Carnotaurus

Carnotaurus was one ugly dinosaur. It had a snub-nose, a snout with all sorts of bumps on it. Perhaps one of Carnotaurus' most distinguishing features would have been it's unusual bull like horns hence it's namesake, meat eating-bull. It also sported a pair of extremely tiny arms, even more so than T-Rex. Carnotaurus lived 83 to 65 million years ago in what is now Argentina. It stood at about 6-9 feet tall was about 25 feet long and would have weighed in at 1.5 tons. A new study has shown that Carnotaurus had a straight, muscular tail, and unusually powerful legs. This would suggest that this dinosaur was able to reach speeds possibly as high as 35-40 miles per hour while pursuing prey. Picture an animal the size of a mack truck with gaping jaws rushing at you at these speeds. Carnotaurus had a wide, short skull and its shallow, slender lower jaw that could expand almost like a giant snake. With those big horns it would surely be a terrifying sight, rushing forward, mouth agape.

Human size comparison

Carnotaurus Skull at the Kenosha Dinosaur Museum, Kenosha, WI

Horns and skull

Carnotaurus had this bizarre pair of horns sticking out both sides of its 3 foot long skull just above the eyes. These horns were most likely used for species identification or sexual display. The horns were made of bone so this meant that they are particularly hard, but entirely to narrow and delicately built for any real combat. Carnotaurus also has a unique adaptation in it's lower jaw that allows it to expand slightly in order to gulp down even larger amounts of flesh. It also had an abnormally long neck. One could imagine an Carnotaurus swinging it's massive head up and bringing it down like a mace on it's prey. It's skull had an odd snub-nose shape to it and was much shorter than that of other theropods. This was a trait of the Abelisaurids, a type of carnosaur that was common in the late cretaceous period. Many of these dinosaurs had short arms and a series of bumps on their snouts.

Discovery

Only one specimen of Carnotaurus was discovered so far. In 1985 José Bonaparte discovered the theropod in Patagonia, Argentina near a farm called "Pancho Sastrie" near Bajada Moreno in the Chubut Province. The new dinosaur was named Carnotaurus sastrei. The skeleton was also discovered nearly complete, with fossilized skin covering most of the right side of it's body. Its closest relatives include Aucasaurus (Argentina) Majungasaurus (Madagascar), and Rajasaurus (India). These dinosaurs are the subfamily Carnotaurinae within the family Abelisauridae. So many Abelisaurids in South America, India, and Madagascar suggest that these continents were all connected at one time.

Exhibit at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

As featured in the FOX series "Terra Nova"

Hunting and diet

Canotaurus would have absolutely terrorized all the other dinosaurs in it's environment. It could have easily run down any juvenile or injured adult sauropods. Like all predatory dinosaurs Carnotaurus probably wouldn't have passed up the occasional carcass as well. Carnotaurus had another adaptation similar to today's crocodiles. It had a space between it's tail and it's hind legs where a large muscle would pull the hind legs back when it's tail moved from side to side. This would have given the dinosaur more momentum and speed when running. The tail was quite stiff and solid which counter-acted the imbalance from being so front heavy and having arms that were completely useless for catching itself in a fall. With big strong legs and a heavy tail Carnotaurus would have been a well balanced predator running down prey and pulverizing vitims with a nasty downward strike from it's armored head.

From Turok Son of Stone

Carnotuarus in Pop Culture

The Carnotaurus is among the most known carnivorous dinosaurs. It has appeared in the book "The Lost World" Michael Crichton's sequel to "Jurassic Park" and the main villain in Disney's "Dinosaur." More recently it has made an appearance in FOX's new series "Terra Nova." In "The Lost World Carnotaurus was depicted as being like a huge predatory chameleon using the jungle as camouflage. Disney's "Dinosaur" made the Carnotaurus too big and more like a Tyrannosaur. Terra Nova shows Carnotaurus as a fast brutal predator that would run down an armored SUV. A Carnotaurus was also featured as the main antagonist in the Adult Animated film "Turok: Son Of Stone."

From Disney's Dinosaur

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Greensleeves Hubs 12 months ago from Essex, UK

Very nice to read this article ChrisIndellicati, but sad to see that you don't seem to write on HubPages much anymore. Too much knowledge of prehistoric life among the general public is superficial, and we need more articles like this to demonstrate to everyone that the dinosaurs were a truly diverse group of thousands of species.

Think 'carnivorous dinosaur' and everyone thinks 'T rex', as if that is all there was. It is good to see a page about one of the many other carnivores, each slightly different in its appearance and behaviour. This seems like a particularly interesting species, so thanks for introducing it to us. Alun

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