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20 Interesting Carnotaurus Facts

by Sankalan Baidya
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When we talk of dinosaurs, the most common image that comes to our mind is that of the deadly T. Rex. However, it wasn’t the only deadly one out there. Carnotaurus from the same period of the T. Rex was yet another ferocious meat-lover. The two were separated by long distances and hence, they couldn’t really engage in a duel to find out who was the best. Anyway, let us find out some cool and interesting Carnotaurus facts. We are pretty darn sure that you will find some of them unique and surprising. So, let’s waste no more time.

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At a Glance

Name: Carnotaurus, which means “Meat-Eating Bull”

Lived: In Late Cretaceous Period some 70 million years ago

Status: Extinct

Diet: Meat (Apex predator of its ecosystem)

Locomotion: Bipedal (Theropod)

Size: 7.5 meters or 25 feet in length and 2.2 meters or 6.5 feet tall at hips

Weight: 2,000 pounds

Vision: Binocular with depth perception

Skin: Reptilian-like and scaly

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Interesting Carnotaurus Facts: 1-10

1. The Carnotaurus lived almost 70 million years ago during Late Cretaceous period. This was about the same time as the notorious Tyrannosaurs Rex. It went extinct with K-T extinction event of Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event.

2. The Carnotaurus however lived is a completely different location. It lived in the area that we today call South America (scientists have named the landmass during that time as Patagonia).

3. What’s really interesting is that during the Late Cretaceous, Patagonia (today’s South America) did not have gigantic theorpods. The area was roamed by small carnivore dinosaurs that weighed just a few hundred pounds. This made Carnotaurus the apex predator of Patagonia.

4. Yet more interesting is the fact that some 30 million years before the Carnotaurus evolved, Patagonia was the home for Giganotosaurus – the largest theropod ever to have lived in South America.

5. The most of interesting Carnotaurus facts is that it had horns! Yes, this crazy meat-lover had two small horns located right above its eyes. It is not that Carnotaurus was the only dinosaur to have horns during that era but it was the only theropod dinosaur species to have horns.

6. These horns measure 6 inches but experts believe that the protrusions might have supported structures that were much longer and made of keratin (you know… it is the thing that makes our hair).

7. As far as the utility of the horns are concerned, experts believe that only the males had those horns and used them primarily to establish superiority by combat to win the mating rights with females of the community.

8. However, as per an analysis of 2009, the skull of Carnotaurus did not evolve to endure rapid and repeated frontal blows. In such cases, the scientists believe that the skull would simply break apart. So, this led to the hypothesis that the horns were not for furious combat but rather designed for slow head-shoving matches.

9. In case you think the horns of this dinosaur weren’t enough to give it a comical look, here is another one of interesting Carnotaurus facts – it had the smallest forearms ever in the entire history of all dinosaurs taken together.

10. Let us put it this way – if Carnotaurus and the T. Rex were to compete for weightlifting using forearms, the T. Rex would emerge winner as a heavy-weight champion. Scientists don’t yet know the true utility of those tiny appendages but they should have definitely made the Carnotaurus look really funny.

Interesting Carnotaurus Facts: 11-20

11. Well, the really tiny forearms of Carnotaurus didn’t really stop this largest meat-eater of its area and of its time from being the fastest predator. The usually long and sleek legs of the dinosaur were pretty strong, which allowed to gain high speeds with short sprints. The only problem was that Carnotaurus could not sustain its speed for long.

12. In 1984, Jose F. Bonaparte – a very famous paleontologist found the first and very well-preserved and almost complete fossil of Carnotaurus from Argentinean fossil bed. He immediately noticed the two horns and named it as Carnotaurus, which literally means ‘Meat-Eating Bull’. It was one of the very few instances in which a mammal’s name was used for naming a dinosaur.

13. Even more interesting is that fossil specimen of Carnotaurus revealed skin impressions, which were surprisingly well-preserved. The impressions revealed that the skin of Carnotaurus was more reptilian-like and scaly. This came as a surprise because during Late Cretaceous, most theropods had feathers. Scientists even believe that the hatchlings of T. Rex had feathers.

14. Scientists cannot say for sure whether the Carnataurus had some kind of feathered covering on skin or not. They just need further fossil specimens.

15. Carnotaurus was actually an Abelisaur. Abelisaur is the name given to a carnivore dinosaur family that used to live in Gondwanan Supercontinent. One of the most famous dinosaurs of the Abelisaur family is the Abelisaurus. This supercontinent later split off due to tectonic movements and created the Patagonia, which is now known as South America.

16. Analysis of Carnotaurus fossil has revealed that the massive legs of this funny-looking yet ferocious dinosaur was blessed with powerful thigh muscles known as the caudofemoralis. Each piece of muscle on its thighs weighed as much as 300 pounds.

17. Combined with such powerful thigh muscles, the tail orientation and shape allowed the Carnotaurus to gain unusual high speeds for short sprints. As mentioned earlier, the speed was not sustained for long runs.

18. Analysis of Carnotaurus fossil revealed that jaws of this dinosaur weren’t designed for powerful bites like that of the T. Rex. In fact, scientists believe that it could only exert just a fraction of the bite force of T. Rex. This led the scientists to hypothesize that Carnotaurus preyed on smaller animals and mostly swallowed them whole.

19. There is an alternate theory in which experts believe that the Carnotaurus had a bite force equivalent to twice the bite force of modern-day American alligator. Based on this theory, some experts hypothesize that a group of Carnotaurus could easily hunt and kill Titanosaurs!

20. The only fossil of Carnotaurus that has been found till date has been found along with fossils of snakes, mammals, crocodiles, turtles and several other marine reptiles. No other dinosaur fossils were found nearby. Scientists say that two things could be deduced from this:

  • Carnotaurus was the apex predator of the ecosystem it lived in.
  • It had access to an assorted variety of diet.

Scientists however say that absence of other dinosaur fossils don’t necessarily mean that Carnotaurus was the only dinosaur in its ecosystem. It is just a matter of time before other smaller dinosaur fossils will be discovered.

Bonus Fact: Unlike other dinosaurs, Carnotaurus had forward-facing eyes, which scientists think, might have given it binocular vision with depth perception.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

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