Alioramus. Fred Wierum


Alioramus (Greek for "different branch"); pronounced AH-lee-oh-RAY-muss


Woodlands of Asia

Historical Period:

Late Cretaceous (70-65 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 20 feet long and 500-1,000 pounds



Distinguishing Characteristics:

Moderate size; numerous teeth; bony crests on snout

About Alioramus

An awful lot has been abstracted about Alioramus ever since a single, incomplete skull was discovered in Mongolia in 1976. Paleontologists believe this dinosaur was a medium-sized tyrannosaur closely related to another Asian meat-eater, Tarbosaurus, from which it differed in both its size and in the distinctive crests running along its snout. As with many dinosaurs reconstructed from partial fossil specimens, though, not everyone agrees that Alioramus was all that it's cracked up to be. Some paleontologists maintain that the fossil specimen belonged to a juvenile Tarbosaurus, or perhaps was not left by a tyrannosaur at all but by an entirely different kind of meat-eating theropod (hence this dinosaur's name, Greek for "different branch").

A recent analysis of a second Alioramus specimen, discovered in 2009, indicates that this dinosaur was even more bizarre than previously thought. It turns out that this presumed tyrannosaur sported a row of five crests on the front of its snout, each about five inches long and less than an inch high, the purpose of which is still a mystery (the most likely explanation is that they were a sexually selected characteristic--that is, males with bigger, more prominent crests were more attractive to females during mating season--since these growths would have been completely useless as an offensive or defensive weapon). These same bumps are also seen, albeit in muted form, on some specimens of Tarbosaurus, yet more evidence that these may have been one and the same dinosaur.

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Your Citation
Strauss, Bob. "Alioramus." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, Strauss, Bob. (2021, February 16). Alioramus. Retrieved from Strauss, Bob. "Alioramus." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 28, 2023).