Carnotaurus is a genus of large carnivorous theropod dinosaurs, belonging to the Neoceratosauria, that lived in the area of present-day Argentina during the Late Cretaceous Period, about seventy million years ago.
The fossil of Carnotaurus was found in Patagonia in 1984. The genus was given its name in 1985, meaning something like "carnivorous bull", when the type species Carnotaurus sastrei was named. No further bones of this species have been excavated. However, the only known skeleton is exceptionally complete. In addition, large parts of the body left skin marks in the rock, more than any other large theropod known. This gave the scientists a good picture of the structure of the animal. The skeleton was missing the ends of the tail and the lower legs. That made it unclear how long and sturdily built the animal was. At first the scientists thought that Carnotaurus was over eight meters long, but still lightly built, weighing one to one and a half tons. He would have had very long back legs. Later, more close relatives of Carnotaurus were found. They had a more stocky tail and fairly short, sturdy hind legs. That's why some researchers think that Carnotaurus was no more than seven and a half meters long, but weighed more than two tons. The front legs were very short with stiff elbows and stubs for fingers. So the animal walked on its hind legs. The skull was short and high. Above the eyes two large horns protruded straight to the side. This is what the animal is named after. Such horns are not known elsewhere in the animal kingdom. The lower jaws were very low. The teeth were straight and short. The neck was very solidly built with powerful muscles. The same was true for the base of the tail. Special sickle-shaped projections on the sides of the vertebrae made the front tail a rigid whole. The prints show that the animal was covered longitudinally with rows of large flat round scales. They were surrounded by much smaller convex round scales. There is no trace of feathers as the fossils of other theropods have sometimes preserved. In 1985, Carnotaurus was considered one of the strangest dinosaurs ever discovered. It was a mystery to scientists what all those peculiar and sometimes contradictory characteristics were for. The horns could have been showpieces to impress conspecifics, but they were actually too heavy for that. Research showed that they could deliver deadly blows, so they were not suitable for a ritual fight between males. Perhaps it could kill prey. That must have been partly the task of the head, but there is no agreement about the hunting method. At first it was thought that Carnotaurus was a light-footed pursuer of small animals. The lower jaw would have been so low that it could be slammed shut quickly to grab it. Later it was suggested that Carnotaurus attacked huge Sauropoda. Driven by the strong tail, the animal would have driven its wide-open mouth at high speed into the flanks of the long-necked herbivores, tearing out a hunk of flesh with a jerking movement of its muscular neck. Carnotaurus belongs to the Abelisauridae and is closely related to Aucasaurus. He is one of the most structurally aberrant members of that group and has played an important role in recognizing that the abelisaurids are a highly specialized branch of the Theropoda.
|Size||19.00 cm x 8.00 cm x 13.00 cm (Lxlxh)|
|Age Recommendation||5-12 years|
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