Carnivorous Dinosaur Pictures and Profiles

Format
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Strauss, Bob. "Carnivorous Dinosaur Pictures and Profiles." ThoughtCo, Mar. 19, 2017, thoughtco.com/carnivorous-dinosaur-pictures-and-profiles-4032323. Strauss, Bob. (2017, March 19). Carnivorous Dinosaur Pictures and Profiles. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/carnivorous-dinosaur-pictures-and-profiles-4032323 Strauss, Bob. "Carnivorous Dinosaur Pictures and Profiles." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/carnivorous-dinosaur-pictures-and-profiles-4032323 (accessed October 21, 2017).
01
of 83

Meet the Meat-Eating Dinosaurs of the Mesozoic Era

saurophaganax
Saurophaganax (Wikimedia Commons).

A bewildering array of meat-eating dinosaurs lived during the Mesozoic Era. In this picture gallery, complete with detailed profiles, you'll meet over 50 of the world's largest and meanest theropod dinosaurs, ranging from Abelisaurus to Tyrannotitan. (The dinosaurs on display here don't include tyrannosaurs or raptors, which you can visit in Tyrannosaur Dinosaur Pictures and Raptor Dinosaur Pictures.)

02
of 83

Abelisaurus

abelisaurus
Abelisaurus (Wikimedia Commons).

The lack of fossil evidence (only a single skull) has forced paleontologists to hazard some guesses about the anatomy of Abelisaurus. It's believed that this meat-eating dinosaur resembled a scaled-down T. Rex, with fairly short arms and a bipedal posture. See an in-depth profile of Abelisaurus

03
of 83

Acrocanthosaurus

acrocanthosaurus
Acrocanthosaurus (Dmitry Bogdanov).

Paleontologists are unsure about the function of Acrocanthosaurus' distinctive back ridge. It may have served as a storage place for fat, as a temperature-control device (depending on whether this theropod was cold- or warm-blooded), or as a sexual display. See 10 Facts About Acrocanthosaurus

04
of 83

Aerosteon

aerosteon
Aerosteon. Sergey Krasovskiy

Name:

Aerosteon (Greek for "air bone"); pronounced AIR-oh-STEE-on

Habitat:

Woodlands of South America

Historical Period:

Late Cretaceous (83 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 30 feet long and one ton

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Large size; air sacs in bones

 

In most ways, Aerosteon was a typical predatory dinosaur of the late Cretaceous period, with its classic theropod shape (powerful legs, short arms, bipedal stance) and sharp teeth. What set this meat-eater apart from the pack is the evidence of air sacs in its bones, which globetrotting paleontologist Paul Sereno has taken as evidence that Aerosteon (and, by implication, other theropods of its kind) may have possessed a birdlike respiratory system.

Of course, air-filled bones serve another important function: they help to reduce their owner's overall weight and bulk. That's another thing Aerosteon seems to have had in common with modern birds, whose bones are necessarily light and airy in order to reduce their owner's flying weight. (It's important to bear in mind, however, that modern birds evolved not from one-ton theropods like Aerosteon, but from the small, feathered raptors and "dino-birds" of the late Cretaceous.)

05
of 83

Afrovenator

afrovenator
Afrovenator (Wikimedia Commons).

Name:

Afrovenator (Greek for "African hunter"); pronounced AFF-ro-ven-ay-tore

Habitat:

Plains of northern Africa

Historical Period:

Early Cretaceous (135-125 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 30 feet long; weight unknown

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Numerous teeth; three claws on each hand

 

Afrovenator is significant for two reasons: first, it's one of the few nearly complete theropod (meat-eating dinosaur) skeletons to be unearthed in northern Africa, and second, it appears to have been closely related to the western European Megalosaurus--yet more evidence for the distribution of continents during the early Cretaceous period.

However, ever since its discovery, the exact place occupied by Afrovenator in the theropod family tree has been a matter of some controversy. At various times, paleontologists have linked this dinosaur to putative descendants as diverse as Eustreptospondylus, Dubreuillosaurus, Allosaurus and even the massive Spinosaurus. The situation is complicated by the fact that, to date, Afrovenator is represented by only a single fossil specimen; further digs may shed more light on this dinosaur's affiliations.

Since it was one of his earliest discoveries, Afrovenator has become something of a calling card for the noted paleontologist Paul Sereno, who unearthed this dinosaur's bones in the African country of Niger in the early 1990's and carted the remains back to his home base at the University of Chicago, where they're currently in storage.

06
of 83

Allosaurus

allosaurus
Allosaurus. Wikimedia Commons

Allosaurus was one of the most common carnivores of the late Jurassic period, a fearsome theropod equipped with sharp teeth and a well-muscled body. This dinosaur also had an especially prominent head, some anatomical features of which may have been meant to attract the opposite sex. See 10 Facts About Allosaurus

07
of 83

Angaturama

angaturama
Angaturama. Wikimedia Commons

Name:

Angaturama (Tupi Indian for "noble"); pronounced ANG-ah-tore-AH-mah

Habitat:

Woodlands of South America

Historical Period:

Early Cretaceous (125 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 30 feet long and two tons

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Spines on back; long, narrow snout

 

Quick: what other meat-eating dinosaur of the middle Cretaceous period had a sailed back, a long, narrow, crocodilian snout, and a weight class in the Tyrannosaurus Rex range? If you answered Spinosaurus, that's pretty much all you need to know about Angaturama, a close (albeit much smaller) relative of Spinosaurus that was unearthed in Brazil in 1991. Brazilian national pride has resulted in the "type fossil" of Angaturama being assigned to its own genus, though some paleontologists speculate that it may actually have been a species of Irritator, yet another spinosaur from South America.

08
of 83

Arcovenator

arcovenator
Arcovenator (Nobu Tamura).

Name

Arcovenator (Greek for "arc hunter"); pronounced ARK-oh-ven-ay-tore

Habitat

Woodlands of western Europe

Historical Period

Late Cretaceous (75 million years ago)

Size and Weight

About 20 feet long and 1,000-2,000 pounds

Diet

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics

Large size; stunted arms; thick legs

 

About Arcovenator

The abelisaurs were a breed of medium-to-large sized meat-eating dinosaurs that originated in South America toward the middle of the Mesozoic Era and then spread to other parts of the world (while still remaining clustered, for the most part, on their home continent). The importance of Arcovenator is that it's one of the few abelisaurs to have radiated as far afield as western Europe (another example being Tarascosaurus); in any event, this fearsome, 20-foot-long carnivore seems to have been most closely related to Majungasaurus, from the island of Madagascar, and Rajasaurus, which was discovered in India. As you can imagine, what this implies for the evolution of abelisaurs during the late Cretaceous period is still being worked out!

09
of 83

Aucasaurus

aucasaurus
Aucasaurus. Sergey Krasovskiy

Name:

Aucasaurus (Greek for "Auca lizard"); pronounced OW-cah-SORE-us

Habitat:

Woodlands of South America

Historical Period:

Late Cretaceous (70 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 13 feet long and 500 pounds

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Long arms; bumps on skull

 

To date, not much information has been released about Aucasaurus, a near-complete skeleton of which was discovered in Argentina in 1999. We do know that this carnivorous theropod was closely related to two other famous dinosaurs of South America, Abelisaurus and Carnotaurus, but it was significantly smaller, with longer arms and bumps on its head instead of horns. Based on the dire condition of its skull, it's possible that the only identified specimen of Aucasaurus was done in by a fellow predator, either in a head-on attack or after it had died of natural causes.

10
of 83

Australovenator

australovenator
Australovenator (Wikimedia Commons).

Name:

Australovenator (Greek for "Australian hunter"); pronounced AW-strah-low-VEN-ah-tore

Habitat:

Woodlands of Australia

Historical Period:

Middle Cretaceous (100 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 20 feet long and a few hundred pounds

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Long legs, arms and tail; sleek build

 

Australovenator is the third of a trio of Australian dinosaurs announced in 2009, the other two being huge, herbivorous titanosaurs. This dinosaur has been classified as an allosaur, a distinctive type of large theropod, and it seems to have been a lightly built, sleek predator (the paleontologist who named it has likened it to a modern cheetah). Australovenator was unlikely to have hunted the 10-ton titanosaurs it was discovered near, but it probably made a good living off the smaller plant-eaters of middle Cretaceous Australia. (By the way, recent analysis has shown that Australovenator was a close relative of the impressively named Megaraptor, a large theropod from South America.)

11
of 83

Bahariasaurus

bahariasaurus
Bahariasaurus. Nobu Tamura

Name:

Bahariasaurus (Arabic/Greek for "oasis lizard"); pronounced ba-HA-ree-ah-SORE-us

Habitat:

Woodlands of northern Africa

Historical Period:

Middle Cretaceous (100-95 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

Up to 40 feet long and seven tons

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Large size; bipedal posture

 

The euphoniously named Bahariasaurus ("oasis lizard") might be better known today if its only fossils hadn't been destroyed by an Allied bombing raid on Germany during World War II (the same fate that befell the remains of a much better-known dinosaur, Spinosaurus). What we do know from these long-gone hipbones is that Bahariasaurus was a large theropod, possibly attaining Tyrannosaurus Rex-like sizes of 6 or 7 tons. As to the evolutionary lineage of Bahariasaurus, that's a murky affair: this dinosaur may have been related to the north African Carcharodontosaurus, it may have been a true tyrannosaur, or it may even have been a species or specimen of the contemporary Deltadromeus; we'll probably never know without additional fossil discoveries.

12
of 83

Baryonyx

baryonyx
Baryonyx (Wikimedia Commons).

The preserved skeleton of Baryonyx was discovered in 1983, by an amateur fossil hunter in England. It's unclear from the remains just how big this Spinosaurus relative really was: since the fossil may be of a juvenile, it's possible that Baryonyx grew to larger sizes than previously thought. See 10 Facts About Baryonyx

13
of 83

Becklespinax

becklespinax
Becklespinax. Sergey Krasovskiy

Name:

Becklespinax (Greek for "Beckles' spine"); pronounced BECK-ul-SPY-nax

Habitat:

Woodlands of western Europe

Historical Period:

Early Cretaceous (140-130 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 20 feet long and one ton

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Large size; strong jaws; possible sail on back

 

One of the most oddly named of all dinosaurs--try saying "Becklespinax" ten times fast and keeping a straight face--this large theropod was also one of the most mysterious, diagnosed on the basis of three fossilized vertebrae. All we know about Becklespinax is that it was a respectably sized carnivorous dinosaur of early Cretaceous England, and that it may (or may not) have sported a short sail, akin to those of later meat-eaters like Spinosaurus. Judging by the ecosystem in which it lived, Becklespinax probably made its living by chasing down and eating small- to medium-sized sauropods.

14
of 83

Berberosaurus

berberosaurus
Berberosaurus (Nobu Tamura).

Name

Berberosaurus (Greek for "Berber lizard"); pronounced BER-ber-oh-SORE-us

Habitat

Plains of northern Africa

Historical Period

Early Jurassic (185-175 million years ago)

Size and Weight

Undisclosed

Diet

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics

Moderate size; bipedal posture

 

The early Jurassic period wasn't exactly a hotbed of dinosaur fossils, which is why Berberosaurus is so important and so frustrating at the same time. Ever since this theropod was discovered, in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco about a dozen years ago, it has bounced around the classification bins. First, Berberosaurus was pegged as an abelisaur; then as a dilophosaur (that is, a close relative of the better-known Dilophosaurus); and finally, though tentatively, as a ceratosaur. Whatever its ultimate disposition, Berberosaurus was doubtless a fearsome predator, feasting on the smaller theropods and prosauropods of its African habitat.

15
of 83

Bicentenaria

bicentenaria
Bicentenaria. PaleoSur

Name:

Bicentenaria ("200 years"); pronounced BYE-sen-ten-AIR-ee-ah

Habitat:

Woodlands of South America

Historical Period:

Middle-Late Cretaceous (95-90 million years ago)

Size and weight:

About eight feet long and 100-200 pounds

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Moderate size; primitive theropod anatomy

 

As is often the case in the dinosaur kingdom, the name Bicentenaria is a bit of a misnomer. The scattered remains of this small theropod were actually discovered in 1998, and revealed to the world in an article published in 2012; the 200th anniversary of the country of Argentina actually transpired in between, in 2010.

Bicentenaria is important for two reasons. First, this dinosaur was a coelurosaur, that is, a meat-eater closely related to Coelurus. The problem is, Coelurus dated from the late Jurassic period (about 150 million years ago), while the remains of Bicentenaria date to the middle to late Cretaceous (95 to 90 million years ago). Evidently, while other theropods went merrily about their evolutionary way, developing into plus-sized tyrannosaurs and vicious raptors, Bicentenaria remained stuck in a Mesozoic time warp. Considering the time and place in which it lived, Bicentenaria was a surprisingly "basal" dinosaur; if it weren't for the unmistakable sediments in which it was buried, paleontologists might be forgiven for believing that it lived 50 million years earlier than it actually did.

Second, the discovery of numerous associated Bicentenaria remains (this dinosaur was reconstituted from the bones of various individuals buried in an Argentinean reservoir) has led paleontologists to speculate that it hunted and/or traveled in packs. It's difficult to know how much weight to give to this theory, since it's not unknown for dinosaur carcasses from different time periods to wind up accumulated in the same location, thanks to floods and prevailing river currents.

16
of 83

Carcharodontosaurus

carcharodontosaurus
Carcharodontosaurus (Sameer Prehistorica).

The type fossil of Carcharodontosaurus, the "Great White Shark lizard," was destroyed during an Allied bombing raid on Germany in World War II, the same fate that befell the bones of this dinosaur's close relative, Spinosaurus, also of northern Africa. See 10 Facts About Carcharodontosaurus

17
of 83

Carnotaurus

carnotaurus
Carnotaurus (Wikimedia Commons).

The arms of Carnotaurus were small and stubby enough to make those of T. Rex seem gigantic by comparison, and the horns over its eyes were too small to be of much use--odd features that make Carnotaurus easily distinguishable from other large meat-eating dinosaurs of the late Cretaceous period. See 10 Facts About Carnotaurus

18
of 83

Ceratosaurus

ceratosaurus
Ceratosaurus (Wikimedia Commons).

Wherever it's ultimately assigned on the theropod family tree, Ceratosaurus was a fierce predator, gobbling up pretty much anything that came across its path--fish, marine reptiles, and other dinosaurs. This carnivore had a more flexible tail than others of its kind, presumably making it an agile swimmer. See an in-depth profile of Ceratosaurus

19
of 83

Chilantaisaurus

chilantaisaurus
Chilantaisaurus. Getty Images

Name:

Chilantaisaurus (Greek for "Chilantai lizard"); pronounced chi-LAN-tie-SORE-us

Habitat:

Woodlands of central Asia

Historical Period:

Middle Cretaceous (110-100 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 25 feet long and 3-4 tons

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Large size; relatively long arms

 

A bewildering array of large theropods roamed the woodlands of Eurasia during the early to middle Cretaceous period; among the biggest of the bunch was Chilantaisaurus, which may have weighed as much as four tons (only about half the size of a full-grown Tyrannosaurus Rex, which lived tens of millions of years later, but still impressive). Chilantaisaurus was once thought to be closely related to the slightly earlier Allosaurus of North America, but it now seems that it may have been an early member of the line of carnivorous dinosaurs that went on to produce the truly gigantic Spinosaurus.

20
of 83

Chilesaurus

chilesaurus
Chilesaurus (University of Birmingham).

Announced to the world in April 2015, Chilesaurus is a true oddball: a theropod dinosaur that not only ate plants, but possessed a distinctly ornithischian-like pubic bone (all theropods are technically classified as saurischians), a small head, and large, clumsy feet. See an in-depth profile of Chilesaurus

21
of 83

Concavenator

concavenator
Concavenator. Raul Martin

The meat-eating dinosaur Concavenator sported two extremely odd adaptations: a triangular structure on its lower back that may have supported a sail or fatty hump, and what appear to be "quill knobs" on its forearms, bony structures that probably supported small arrays of feathers. See an in-depth profile of Concavenator

22
of 83

Cruxicheiros

cruxicheiros
Cruxicheiros (Sergey Krasovskiy).

Name

Cruxicheiros (Greek for "crossed hand"); pronounced CREW-ksih-CARE-oss

Habitat

Woodlands of western Europe

Historical Period

Late Jurassic (170-165 million years ago)

Size and Weight

Undisclosed

Diet

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics

Large size; sharp teeth; bipedal posture

 

If the "type fossil" of Cruxicheiros had been discovered 200 years ago, it would no doubt have been classified as a species of Megalosaurus. As it is, though, this dinosaur's bones were dredged from an English quarry in the early 1960's, and it was only assigned to its own genus in 2010. (The name Cruxicheiros, "crossed hands," doesn't refer to this meat-eater's posture, but to the Cross Hands quarry in Warwickshire.) Beyond that, not a whole lot is known about Cruxicheiros besides its very general classification as a "tetanuran" theropod, meaning it was related to virtually every other meat-eating dinosaur of the Mesozoic Era.

23
of 83

Cryolophosaurus

cryolophosaurus
Cryolophosaurus (Alain Beneteau).

The meat-eating dinosaur Cryolophosaurus stands out for two reasons: it was an early carnosaur, predating others of its kind by tens of millions of years, and it had a strange crest atop its head that ran from ear to ear, rather than from front to back, like an Elvis Presley pompadour. See 10 Facts About Cryolophosaurus

24
of 83

Dahalokely

dahalokely
Dahalokely (Sergey Krasovskiy).

The importance of Dahalokely (which was announced to the world in 2013) is that this meat-eating dinosaur lived 90 million years ago, shaving about 20 million years off the far end of Madagascar's almost 100-million-year fossil gap. See an in-depth profile of Dahalokely

25
of 83

Deltadromeus

deltadromeus
Deltadromeus (Wikimedia Commons).

Name:

Deltadromeus (Greek for "delta runner"); pronounced DELL-tah-DROE-mee-us

Habitat:

Plains of northern Africa

Historical Period:

Middle Cretaceous (95 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 30 feet long and 3-4 tons

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Long, slender build; powerful legs

 

It's hard to picture a carnivorous dinosaur measuring over 30 feet from snout to tail and weighing in the neighborhood of 3 to 4 tons building up a significant head of steam during a chase, but judging by its streamlined build, Deltadromeus must have been one of the fastest and most dangerous predators of the middle Cretaceous period. Until recently, this large theropod was classified as a coelurosaur (a family of fairly small, predatory dinosaurs), but its size and other anatomical characteristics have since placed it more firmly in the ceratosaur camp, and thus closely related to the equally dangerous Ceratosaurus.

26
of 83

Dilophosaurus

dilophosaurus
Dilophosaurus. Wikimedia Commons

Thanks to its portrayal in Jurassic Park, Dilophosaurus may be the most misunderstood dinosaur on the face of the earth: it didn't spit poison, it didn't have an expandable neck frill, and it wasn't the size of a Golden Retriever. See 10 Facts About Dilophosaurus

27
of 83

Draconyx

draconyx
Draconyx (Joao Boto).

Name

Draconyx (Greek for "dragon claw"); pronounced DRAKE-oh-nicks

Habitat

Woodlands of western Europe

Historical Period

Late Jurassic (150 million years ago)

Size and Weight

About 10 feet long and 300 pounds

Diet

Plants

Distinguishing Characteristics

Moderate size; bipedal posture

 

You might imagine that a dinosaur named Draconyx ("dragon's claw") would be a confirmed meat eater, or at least have an unpleasant disposition. Well, that's not the case: this late Jurassic ornithopod, discovered in Portugal in 1991, only weighed about 300 pounds and was a confirmed vegetarian, about as far from a dragon as you can get while still being in the general vicinity of a large reptile. That's pretty much all we know about Draconyx, except for the fact that it was closely related to the North American Camptosaurus and shared its habitat with the much bigger meat-eater Lourinhanosaurus.

28
of 83

Dubreuillosaurus

Dubreuillosarus
Dubreuillosaurus. Nobu Tamura

Name:

Dubreuillosaurus (Greek for "Dubreuill's lizard"); pronounced doo-BRAIL-oh-SORE-us

Habitat:

Woodlands of western Europe

Historical Period:

Middle Jurassic (170 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 25 feet long and two tons

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Long, low-slung skull; bipedal posture

 

Not the most easily spelled (or pronounced) dinosaur, Dubreuillosaurus was only "diagnosed" in 2005 on the basis of a partial skeleton (it was originally thought to have been a species of the even more obscure meat-eater Poekilopleuron). Now classified as a megalosaur, a type of large theropod closely related to Megalosaurus, Dubreuillosaurus was characterized by its unusually long skull, which was three times as long as it was thick. It's unknown exactly why this theropod evolved this feature, but it probably had something to do with its accustomed diet.

29
of 83

Duriavenator

duriavenator
Duriavenator (Nobu Tamura).

Name

Duriavenator (Latin/Greek for "Dorset hunter"); pronounced DOOR-ee-ah-VEN-ay-tore

Habitat

Woodlands of western Europe

Historical Period

Middle Jurassic (170 million years ago)

Size and Weight

Undisclosed

Diet

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics

Long skull; bipedal posture

 

Paleontologists don't always spend their time out in the field digging up new dinosaurs; sometimes, they have to rectify the errors made by previous generations of scientists. Duriavenator ("Dorset hunter") is the genus name assigned in 2008 to what had previously been classified as a species of Megalosaurus, M. hesperis. (In the mid-19th century, a bewildering variety of theropods were classified as Megalosaurus species by paleontologists who hadn't yet grasped the full scope of theropod evolution.)  The middle Jurassic Duriavenator is one of the earliest identified tetanuran ("stiff-tailed") dinosaurs, preceded (perhaps) only by Cryolophosaurus.

30
of 83

Edmarka

edmarka
Edmarka. Sergey Krasovskiy

Name:

Edmarka (after paleontologist Bill Edmark); pronounced ed-MAR-ka

Habitat:

Woodlands of North America

Historical Period:

Late Jurassic (150-145 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 35 feet long and 2-3 tons

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Large size; short arms with long claws

 

Just how confident was the famous paleontologist Robert Bakker when the discovered the fossils of Edmarka in the early 1990's? Well, he dubbed this presumed new genus of large theropod Edmarka rex, after its more famous cousin of the late Cretaceous period, Tyrannosaurus Rex. The trouble is, most paleontologists believe that Edmarka was actually a species of Torvosaurus (and, even more confusingly, other paleontologists believe that Torvosaurus was actually a species of Allosaurus). Whatever you choose to call it, Edmarka was clearly an apex predator of late Jurassic North America, and one of the scariest predatory dinosaurs until the advent of full-sized tyrannosaurs tens of millions of years later.

31
of 83

Ekrixinatosaurus

ekrixinatosaurus
Ekrixinatosaurus. Sergey Krasovskiy

Name:

Ekrixinatosaurus (Greek for "explosion-born lizard"); pronounced eh-KRIX-ih-NAT-oh-SORE-us

Habitat:

Woodlands of South America

Historical Period:

Middle Cretaceous (100 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 20 feet long and one ton

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Bipedal posture; short arms

 

The most interesting thing about some dinosaurs is their names. That's certainly the case with Ekrixinatosaurus, a nearly-unpronounceable jumble of Greek roots that translates roughly as "explosion-born lizard"--a reference to the fact that this large theropod's bones were discovered during construction-related blasting in Argentina, and which has nothing to do with the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Ekrixinatosaurus is classified as an abelisaur (and hence a relative of Abelisaurus), and it also shared some characteristics (such as its unusually tiny and stunted arms) with the better-known Majungatholus and Carnotaurus.

32
of 83

Eoabelisaurus

eoabelisaurus
Eoabelisaurus (Nobu Tamura).

Name

Eoabelisaurus (Greek for "dawn Abelisaurus"); pronounced EE-oh-ah-BELL-ih-SORE-us

Habitat

Woodlands of South America

Historical Period

Middle Jurassic (170 million years ago)

Size and Weight

About 20 feet long and 1-2 tons

Diet

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics

Large head; small arms; bipedal posture

 

The abelisaurids were a family of meat-eating dinosaurs that populated South America during the Cretaceous period (the most famous member of the breed was Carnotaurus). The importance of Eoabelisaurus is that it's the first identified abelisaurid theropod to date from the Jurassic period, about 170 million years ago, an otherwise sparse stretch of time for dinosaur discoveries. Like its descendants tens of millions of years down the line, this "dawn Abelisaurus" was characterized by its fearsome size (at least by middle Jurassic standards) and its unusually stunted arms, which doubtless still served some useful purpose.

33
of 83

Eocarcharia

eocarcharia
Eocarcharia. Sergey Krasovskiy

Name:

Eocarcharia (Greek for "dawn shark"); pronounced EE-oh-car-CAR-ee-ah

Habitat:

Woodlands of northern Africa

Historical Period:

Middle Cretaceous (110 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 25 feet long and 1,000 pounds

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Sharp teeth; bony ridge above eyes

 

As you may have guessed from its name, Eocarcharia was closely related to Carcharodontosaurus, the "great white shark lizard" that occupied the same north African habitat. Ecarcharia was smaller than its more famous cousin, and also had a strange, bony ridge over its eyes, which it may have used to head-butt other dinosaurs (this was probably a sexually selected characteristic, meaning males with bigger, bonier brows got to mate with more females). Judging by its numerous, sharp teeth, Eocarcharia was an active predator, though it presumably left the biggest prey to Carcharodontosaurus. By the way, this large theropod marks yet another notch in the dinosaur-discovery belt of the prolific paleontologist Paul Sereno.

34
of 83

Erectopus

erectopus
Erectopus. Nobu Tamura

Name

Erectopus (Greek for "upright foot"); pronounced eh-RECK-toe-puss

Habitat

Woodlands of western Europe

Historical Period

Early Cretaceous (140 million years ago)

Size and Weight

About 10 feet long and 500 pounds

Diet

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics

Moderate size; bipedal posture

 

To those unfamiliar with the Greek language, the name Erectopus may seem slightly naughty--but it actually means nothing more titillating than "upright foot." The remains of this meat-eating dinosaur were discovered in France in the late 19th century, and since then it has had a complicated taxonomic history. Like many carnivores of dubious provenance, it was initially classified as a species of Megalosaurus (M. superbus), then renamed Erectopus sauvagei by the German paleontologist Friedrich von Huene, at which point it spent almost the next 100 years in dinosaur limbo--until it was reassessed in 2005 as a close (but much smaller) relative of Allosaurus.

35
of 83

Eustreptospondylus

eustreptospondylus
Eustreptospondylus (Wikimedia Commons).

Eustreptospondylus was discovered in the mid-19th century, before scientists had developed a suitable system for classifying dinosaurs. As a result, this theropod was originally thought to be a species of Megalosaurus, and it took a full century for paleontologists to assign it to its own genus. See an in-depth profile of Eustreptospondylus

36
of 83

Fukuiraptor

fukuiraptor
Fukuiraptor (Government of Japan).

Name:

Fukuiraptor (Greek for "Fukui thief"); pronounced FOO-kwee-rap-tore

Habitat:

Woodlands of Asia

Historical Period:

Middle Cretaceous (110-100 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 13 feet long and a few hundred pounds

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Large claws; stiff tail

 

Like many theropods (the large family of two-legged carnivorous dinosaurs that included such diverse groups as raptors, tyrannosaurs, carnosaurs and allosaurs), Fukuiraptor has bounced around the classification bins ever since its discovery in Japan. At first, this dinosaur's giant hand claws were misidentified as belonging on its feet, and it was classified as a raptor (a legacy that endures in its name). Today, though, Fukuiraptor is believed to have been a carnosaur, and was probably closely related to another misnamed, medium-sized theropod, the Chinese Sinraptor. (It's possible that Fukuiraptor preyed on the contemporary ornithopod Fukuisaurus, but as yet there's no evidence for this.)

37
of 83

Gasosaurus

gasosaurus
Gasosaurus (Wikimedia Commons).

Why "Gasosaurus?" Not because this dinosaur had digestive issues, but because the fragmented remains of this obscure but amusingly named theropod were discovered in 1985 by the employees of a Chinese gas-mining company. See an in-depth profile of Gasosaurus

38
of 83

Genyodectes

genyodectes
The fossilized teeth of Genyodectes (Wikimedia Commons)(.

Name

Genyodectes (Greek for "jaw biter"); pronounced JEN-yo-DECK-teez

Habitat

Woodlands of South America

Historical Period

Early Cretaceous (125 million years ago)

Size and Weight

Undisclosed

Diet

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics

Large skull; bipedal posture

 

Considering that entire dinosaurs have been reconstructed from scarcer fossil evidence, it seems odd that Genyodectes has proven so hard to classify: this meat-eater is represented by a single, superbly preserved set of choppers, which look like the giant-sized false teeth from a children's cartoon. Since its "type fossil" was described, in 1901, Genyodectes has been classified as a tyrannosaur,  an abelisaur and a megalosaur; lately, the trend has been to lump it in with the ceratosaurs, which would make it a close relative of Ceratosaurus. Oddly enough, considering its tangled history, Genyodectes was the most well-attested large South American theropod until a series of spectacular fossil finds starting in the 1970's.

39
of 83

Giganotosaurus

giganotosaurus
Giganotosaurus (Wikimedia Commons).

Giganotosaurus was a truly enormous predatory dinosaur, slightly outweighing even Tyrannosaurus Rex. This South American theropod also had a more formidable arsenal, including much bigger arms with three clawed fingers on each hand. See 10 Facts About Giganotosaurus

40
of 83

Gojirasaurus

gojirasaurus
Gojirasaurus. Getty Images

Name:

Gojirasaurus (Japanese/Greek for "Godzilla lizard"); pronounced go-GEE-rah-SORE-us

Habitat:

Woodlands of North America

Historical Period:

Late Triassic (225-205 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 18 feet long and 500 pounds

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Bipedal posture; slender build

 

Here's a quick Japanese lesson: the enormous monster we know as Godzilla bears the Japanese name Gojira, which is itself a combination of the Japanese words for whale ("kujira") and gorilla ("gorira"). As you can guess, the paleontologist who named Gojirasaurus (the bones of which were dug up in North America) grew up as a die-hard fan of the Godzilla movies.

Despite its name, Gojirasaurus was far from the biggest dinosaur that ever lived, though it did attain a respectable size for its time--in fact, at 500 pounds, it may have been one of the biggest theropods of the Triassic period. So far, paleontologists have only found the fossil of a single juvenile, so it's possible that adults of this genus may have been even bigger (though nowhere near as massive as later carnivorous dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus Rex, much less Godzilla himself).

41
of 83

Ilokelesia

ilokelesia
Ilokelesia. Wikimedia Commons

Name:

Ilokelesia (indigenous for "flesh lizard"); pronounced EYE-low-keh-LEE-zha

Habitat:

Woodlands of South America

Historical Period:

Late Cretaceous (95 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 14 feet long and 400-500 pounds

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Bipedal posture; broad tail

 

Ilokelesia was one of a wide variety of abelisaurs--small- to medium-sized theropod dinosaurs closely related to Abelisaurus--that inhabited South America during the middle to late Cretaceous period. This 500-pound meat-eater stood out from the pack thanks to its broader-than-usual tail and the structure of its skull; its closest relative was the much bigger, and much more dangerous, Mapusaurus. There's still a lot paleontologists don't know about the evolutionary relationship of abelisaurs to other theropod families, which is why dinosaurs like Ilokelesia are a subject of intensive study.

42
of 83

Indosuchus

indosuchus
Indosuchus. Getty Images

Name:

Indosuchus (Greek for "Indian crocodile"); pronounced IN-doe-SOO-kuss

Habitat:

Woodlands of southern India

Historical Period:

Late Cretaceous (70-65 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 20 feet long and one ton

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Large head; stiff tail; bipedal posture

 

As you may have guessed from its name--"Indian crocodile"--Indosuchus wasn't identified as a dinosaur when its scattered remains were first discovered in 1933, in southern India (which, even today, is not exactly a hotbed of dinosaur research). It was only much later that this creature was reconstructed as a large theropod closely related to the South American Abelisaurus, and thus a devoted hunter of the small- to mid-sized hadrosaurs and titanosaurs of late Cretaceous central Asia. (Indosuchus/ kinship with a South American dinosaur can no doubt be explained by the distribution  of the earth's continents during Mesozoic Era.)

43
of 83

Irritator

irritator
Irritator (Sergey Krasovskiy).

Name:

Irritator; pronounced IH-rih-tay-tore

Habitat:

Lakesides of South America

Historical Period:

Middle Cretaceous (100 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 25 feet long and one ton

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Long, narrow skull; spines along back

 

As spinosaurs--large, carnivorous dinosaurs with crocodile-like heads and jaws--go, Irritator wasn't any more "irritating" than any other genus. Rather, this predator acquired its name because its only existing skull had been touched up with plaster by an overeager fossil hunter, requiring paleontologist Dave Martill to spend long, tedious hours undoing the damage. As you may already have guessed, Irritator was closely related to its fellow South American theropod Spinosaurus, the biggest carnivorous dinosaur that ever lived--and it may yet wind up being assigned as a species of yet another South American spinosaur, Angaturama.

By the way, the last name of the only known species of Irritator is "challengeri," after the lead character in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's novel The Lost World.

44
of 83

Kaijiangosaurus

kaijiangosaurus
Kaijiangosaurus. Sergey Krasovskiy

Name:

Kaijiangosaurus (Greek for "Kaijiang lizard"); pronounced KY-jee-ANG-oh-SORE-us

Habitat:

Woodlands of Asia

Historical Period:

Late Jurassic (160 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 13 feet long and 500 pounds

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Moderate size; bipedal posture

 

Kaijiangosaurus is one of those dinosaurs that has been consigned to the "almost, but not quite" netherworld of paleontology: this large theropod (technically, a carnosaur) was discovered in China in 1984, in the same formation that yielded the better known, and much more amusingly named, Gasosaurus. In fact, most paleontologists believe that Kaijiangosaurus was either a specimen, or a species, of this more famous dinosaur (which wasn't technically gassy, but discovered during a dig on gas-bearing sediments), though only further fossil discoveries can decide the issue one way or the other.

45
of 83

Kryptops

kryptops
Kryptops. Sergey Krasovskiy

Name:

Kryptops (Greek for "covered face"); pronounced CRIP-tops

Habitat:

Woodlands of northern Africa

Historical Period:

Middle Cretaceous (110 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 25 feet long and 1,000-2,000 pounds

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Small teeth; horny covering on face

 

Discovered in 2008 by the globe-trotting paleontologist Paul Sereno, Kryptops is a rare example of a north African theropod (technically, an abelisaur) from the middle Cretaceous period. This dinosaur wasn't especially big, "only" about 25 feet long and less than a ton, but it was distinguished by the weird, horny skin that seemed to have covered its face (this coating was probably made of keratin, the same stuff as human fingernails). Despite its fearsome appearance, Kryptops' relatively short, blunt teeth point to its having been a scavenger rather than an active hunter.

46
of 83

Leshansaurus

leshansaurus
Leshansaurus (Nobu Tamura).

Name

Leshansaurus (Greek for "Leshan lizard"); pronounced LEH-shan-SORE-us

Habitat

Woodlands of Asia

Historical Period

Late Jurassic (160 million years ago)

Size and Weight

About 20 feet long and one ton

Diet

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics

Moderate size; long snout; bipedal posture

 

To date, not a lot is known about Leshansaurus, which was diagnosed on the basis of a partial juvenile skeleton unearthed in China's Dashanpu Formation in 2009. Initially, this theropod was classified as a close relative of Sinraptor, but now there are now some indications that it may have been a megalosaur instead (and thus similar to the western European Megalosaurus). Leshansaurus did possess an unusually narrow snout, which has fueled speculation that it preyed on the small, more easily tipped-over ankylosaurs of late Cretaceous China (such as Chialingosaurus).

47
of 83

Limusaurus

limusaurus
Limusaurus. Nobu Tamura

Name:

Limusaurus (Greek for "mud lizard"); pronounced LIH-moo-SORE-us

Habitat:

Woodlands of China

Historical Period:

Late Jurassic (160 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About five feet long and 75 pounds

Diet:

Unknown; possibly herbivorous

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Small size; primitive beak with no teeth

 

Every now and then, paleontologists unearth a dinosaur that throws a big, looping curve ball into accepted dogma. That's what has happened with Limusaurus, a very early ceratosaur (a type of large theropod, or bipedal, meat-eating dinosaur) with a beaked snout and no teeth. What this almost certainly means (though not all paleontologists have accepted this conclusion) is that Limusaurus was a vegetarian, whereas virtually all other theropod genera (with the exception of some therizinosaurs and ornithomimids) are known to have subsisted on meat. As such, this relatively early (late Jurassic) ceratosaur may have represented a transitional form between earlier vegetarians and later carnivores.

48
of 83

Lourinhanosaurus

lourinhanosaurus
Lourinhanosaurus (Wikimedia Commons).

Name:

Lourinhanosaurus (Greek for "Lourinha lizard"); pronounced lore-in-HAHN-oh-SORE-us

Habitat:

Woodlands of western Europe

Historical Period:

Late Jurassic (150 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 20 feet long and 1-2 tons

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Moderate size; long arms

 

One of the few large theropods to be discovered in Portugal, Lourinhanosaurus (named after that country's Lourinha Formation) has proven difficult to classify: paleontologists can't decide if it was most closely related to Allosaurus, Sinraptor or the equally obscure Megalosaurus. This late Jurassic predator is noteworthy for two reasons: first, scientists have identified gastroliths among its fossilized stomach contents, which Lourinhanosaurus clearly swallowed on purpose rather than ingesting by accident when eating herbivorous dinosaurs. And second, a clutch of about 100 Lourinhanosaurus eggs, some containing fossilized embryos, have been found close to the original excavation site.

49
of 83

Magnosaurus

magnosaurus
Magnosaurus (Nobu Tamura).

Name:

Magnosaurus (Greek for "large lizard"); pronounced MAG-no-SORE-us

Habitat:

Woodlands of Western Europe

Historical Period:

Middle Jurassic (175 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 13 feet long and 400 pounds

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Small size; bipedal posture

 

Paleontologists are still untangling the confusion generated by the early discovery (in 1676) of Megalosaurus, after which every dinosaur that vaguely resembled it was assigned, incorrectly, to its genus. A good example is Magnosaurus, which (based on its limited fossil remains) was considered to be a valid a species of Megalosaurus until fairly recently. Apart from this taxonomic confusion, Magnosaurus appears to have been a typical theropod of the middle Jurassic period, relatively small (only about 400 pounds or so) and speedy compared to its later Jurassic and Cretaceous descendants.

50
of 83

Majungasaurus

majungasaurus
Majungasaurus. Sergey Krasovskiy

Paleontologists have identified Majungasaurus bones bearing Majungasaurus tooth marks. However, we don't know whether adults of this dinosaur genus actively hunted down their relatives, or if they simply feasted on the carcasses of already-dead family members. See an in-depth profile of Majungasaurus

51
of 83

Mapusaurus

mapusaurus
Mapusaurus (Wikimedia Commons).

The discovery of hundreds of Mapusaurus bones jumbled together can be taken as evidence of herd, or pack, behavior--raising the possibility that this meat-eating dinosaur hunted cooperatively in order to take down the huge titanosaurs of middle Cretaceous South America. See an in-depth profile of Mapusaurus

52
of 83

Marshosaurus

marshosaurus
Marshosaurus. Sergey Krasovskiy

Name:

Marshosaurus (Greek for "Marsh's lizard"); pronounced MARSH-oh-SORE-us

Habitat:

Woodlands of North America

Historical Period:

Late Jurassic (150 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 20 feet long and 1,000 pounds

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Bipedal posture; possibly feathers

 

Marshosaurus didn't earn its name because it lived in a marshy habitat; rather, it honors the famous paleontologist Othniel C. Marsh, who's also memorialized by another dinosaur genus (Othnielia, sometimes called Othnielosaurus). Beyond its illustrious name, Marshosaurus appears to have been a typical, medium-sized theropod of the late Jurassic period, and is represented by very limited fossil remains. This would no doubt displease Marsh, a famously prickly figure who spent much of the 19th century feuding with his contemporary Edward Drinker Cope, in a dark page of dinosaur history known as the Bone Wars.

53
of 83

Masiakasaurus

masiakasaurus
Masiakasaurus. Lukas Panzarin

Name:

Masiakasaurus (Malagasy and Greek for "vicious lizard"); pronounced MAY-zha-kah-SORE-us

Habitat:

Woodlands of Madagascar

Historical Period:

Late Cretaceous (70 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About six feet long and 100-200 pounds

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Small size; sharp, protruding teeth

 

If ever a dinosaur needed braces, it was Masiakasaurus: the teeth of this smallish theropod were angled outward toward the front of its mouth, an adaptation that presumably evolved for a good reason (the most likely explanation is that Masiakasaurus subsisted on fish, which it speared with its front choppers). Then again, maybe this particular individual simply needed to take a trip to a Cretaceous orthodontist! Masiakasaurus is notable for another reason: the only known species, Masiakasaurus knopfleri, is named after former Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler, for the simple reason that Knopfler's music happened to be playing when this fossil was unearthed on the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar.

54
of 83

Megalosaurus

megalosaurus
Megalosaurus. H. Kyoht Luterman

Megalosaurus has the distinction of being the first dinosaur ever to appear in a work of fiction. A century before the Hollywood era, Charles Dickens name-dropped this dinosaur in his novel Bleak House: "It would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill." See 10 Facts About Megalosaurus

55
of 83

Megaraptor

megaraptor
Megaraptor. Wikimedia Commons

When the scattered remains of Megaraptor were discovered in Argentina in the late 1990's, paleontologists were impressed by a single, foot-long claw, which they incorrectly assumed was located on this dinosaur's hind foot--hence its initial classification as a raptor. See an in-depth profile of Megaraptor

56
of 83

Metriacanthosaurus

metriacanthosaurus
Metriacanthosaurus. Sergey Krasovskiy

Name:

Metriacanthosaurus (Greek for "moderate-spined lizard"); pronounced MEH-tree-ah-CAN-tho-SORE-us

Habitat:

Woodlands of western Europe

Historical Period:

Late Jurassic (160-150 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 25 feet long and one ton

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Large size; bipedal posture; short spines on backbone; possible hump or sale

 

Not the most euphoniously named of all dinosaurs, Metriacanthosaurus ("moderate-spined lizard") was mistakenly classified as a species of Megalosaurus when its incomplete fossil remains were discovered in England in 1923--not an uncommon occurrence, since many large theropods of the late Jurassic period started out under the Megalosaurus umbrella. We still don't know a whole lot about this dinosaur, except that the short spines jutting out from its vertebrae may have supported a slender hump or sail--a hint that Metriacanthosaurus was perhaps ancestral to more famous sailed carnivores like the much later Spinosaurus.

57
of 83

Monolophosaurus

monolophosaurus
Monolophosaurus (Wikimedia Commons).

Name:

Monolophosaurus (Greek for "single-crested lizard"); pronounced MON-oh-LOAF-oh-SORE-us

Habitat:

Woodlands of Asia

Historical Period:

Middle Jurassic (170 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 17 feet long and 1,500 pounds

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Bipedal posture; single crest on head

 

Unlike its similarly named cousin, Dilophosaurus, Monolophosaurus hasn't quite seized the public's imagination--even though this allosaur (as it has tentatively been classified) was slightly bigger than Dilophosaurus and probably more dangerous. Like all theropods, Monolophosaurus was a meat-eating biped; judging by geological clues from where it was discovered, it likely prowled the lakebeds and riversides of middle Jurassic Asia. Why did Monolophosaurus have that single, prominent crest on top of its head? As with all such anatomical features, this was likely a sexually selected characteristic--that is, males with bigger crests were dominant in the pack and could more easily mate with females.

58
of 83

Neovenator

neovenator
Neovenator (Sergey Krasovskiy).

Name:

Neovenator (Greek for "new hunter"); pronounced KNEE-oh-ven-ate-or

Habitat:

Woodlands of western Europe

Historical Period:

Early Cretaceous (130-125 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 25 feet long and half a ton

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Large size; slender build

 

For all intents and purposes, Neovenator occupied the same niche in its western European habitat as Allosaurus did in North America: a large, agile, fast and fearsome theropod that predated the much bigger tyrannosaurs of the later Cretaceous period. Today, Neovenator is probably the best-known and most popular carnivorous dinosaur from western Europe, which (until the discovery of this genus in 1996) had to make do with historically important but frustratingly vague meat-eaters like Megalosaurus. (By the way, Neovenator was closely related to the impressively named Megaraptor of South America, which wasn't technically a true raptor but another large theropod of the Allosaurus family.)

59
of 83

Ostafrikasaurus

ostafrikasaurus
Ostafrikasaurus. Universal

Name

Ostafrikasaurus ("East Africa lizard"); pronounced oss-TAFF-frih-kah-SORE-us

Habitat

Riverbeds of Africa

Historical Period

Late Jurassic (150-145 million years ago)

Size and Weight

Undisclosed

Diet

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics

Sharp, two-inch-long teeth

 

No paleontologist likes to erect a new dinosaur genus on the basis of a handful of teeth, but sometimes that's all there is to go on and you have to make the best of the situation. Ostafrikasaurus has bounced all over the classification bins since its discovery in Tanzania in the early 20th century: first it was assigned to Labrosaurus (which turned out to be the same dinosaur as Allosaurus), then to Ceratosaurus, and then to an early spinosaur closely related to Spinosaurus and Baryonyx. If this last identification holds, then Ostafrikasaurus will prove to be the earliest spinosaur in the fossil record, dating to the late Jurassic (rather than the early to middle Cretaceous) period.

60
of 83

Oxalaia

oxalaia
Oxalaia. University of Brazil

Name:

Oxalaia (after a Brazilian deity); pronounces OX-ah-LIE-ah

Habitat:

Woodlands of South America

Historical Period:

Late Cretaceous (95 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 40 feet long and six tons

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Narrow, crocodile-like snout; possibly sail on back

 

If paleontologists had discovered Oxalaia's arm or leg, rather than pieces of its long, narrow snout, they probably wouldn't have been able to classify this dinosaur. As things stand, though, Oxalaia was clearly a genus of spinosaur, the family of plus-sized meat-eaters characterized by their crocodile-like jaws and (in some species) the sails on their backs. To date, the 40-foot-long, six-ton Oxalaia is the largest spinosaur to be discovered in South America, bigger than its continent-mates Irritator and Angaturama but slightly smaller than African spinosaurs like Suchomimus and (of course) Spinosaurus.

61
of 83

Piatnitzkysaurus

piatnitzkysaurus
Piatnitzkysaurus (Wikimedia Commons).

Name:

Piatnitzkysaurus (Greek for "Piatnitzsky's lizard"); pronounced pyat-NIT-skee-SORE-us

Habitat:

Woodlands of South America

Historical Period:

Middle Jurassic (175-165 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 14 feet long and 1,000 pounds

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Long, stiff tail; bipedal posture; ridges on snout

 

It's hard to work up much of a sweat about a dinosaur named "Piatnitzky," but the fierce carnivore Piatnitzkysaurus terrorized the plant-eaters of middle Jurassic South America. Closely related to another early theropod, Megalosaurus, Piatnitzkysaurus was distinguished by the crests on its head and its long, stiff tail, which it probably used for balance when chasing down prey. It clearly partook of the same body plan as later, bigger, and more dangerous theropods like Allosaurus and Tyrannosaurus Rex.

62
of 83

Piveteausaurus

piveteausaurus
Piveteausaurus (Jordan Mallon).

Name

Piveteausaurus (after French paleontologist Jean Piveteau); pronounced PIH-veh-toe-SORE-us

Habitat

Woodlands of western Europe

Historical Period

Late Jurassic (165 million years ago)

Size and Weight

About 25 feet long and one ton

Diet

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics

Large head; small forearms; bipedal posture

 

As with many dinosaurs, the main reason Piveteausaurus isn't better known is that it has been mired in controversy ever since its discovery, and naming, nearly a century ago. The fossils of this sizable theropod have been variously assigned to Streptospondylus, Eustreptospondylus, Proceratosaurus and even Allosaurus; the only body part that seems to belong to Piveteausaurus is a fragment of braincase, and even that is the subject of some dispute. What we do know about this dinosaur is that it was a fearsome predator of middle to late Jurassic Europe, and possibly the apex reptile of its local French ecosystem.

63
of 83

Poekilopleuron

poekilopleuron
Poekilopleuropon. Getty Images

After its discovery in the early 19th century, Poekilopleuron was examined by an almost comical array of famous paleontologists, none of whom could quite come to terms about how this meat-eating dinosaur should be classified. See an in-depth profile of Poekilopleuron

64
of 83

Rahiolisaurus

rahiolisaurus
Rahiolisaurus. Government of India

Name

Rahiolisaurus (after a village in India); pronounced RAH-hee-OH-lih-SORE-us

Habitat

Woodlands of southern Asia

Historical Period

Late Cretaceous (70 million years ago)

Size and Weight

About 25 feet long and one ton

Diet

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics

Slender build; bipedal posture

 

Thanks to the vagaries of the fossilization process, very few dinosaurs have been discovered in India, the chief culprits being moderately sized "abelisaur" theropods like Indosuchus and strange-looking sauropods like Isisaurus. Unusually, the recently discovered Rahiolisaurus is represented by seven incomplete, tangled specimens, which may have drowned in a flash flood or even dragged to this location by scavengers after they died. The main thing that distinguished this meat-eater from its close contemporary Rajasaurus is that it was relatively slender, or "gracile," rather than thickly built, or "robust;' other than that, we know very little about its appearance or how it lived.

65
of 83

Rajasaurus

rajasaurus
Rajasaurus. Sergey Krasovskiy

An otherwise unremarkable meat-eating dinosaur, except for its small head crest, Rajasaurus lived in what is now modern-day India. Dinosaur fossils are relatively rare on the subcontinent, which is why the regal word "Raja" was bestowed on this predator! See an in-depth profile of Rajasaurus

66
of 83

Rugops

rugops
Rugops. Sergey Krasovskiy

Name:

Rugops (Greek for "wrinkled face"); pronounced ROO-gops

Habitat:

Woodlands of northern Africa

Historical Period:

Middle Cretaceous (100-95 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 30 feet long and 2-3 tons

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Unusual wrinkles and holes in skull

 

When it was discovered in north Africa in 2000, by the famous paleontologist Paul Sereno, the skull of Rugops stood out for two reasons. First, the teeth were fairly small and unimpressive, hinting that this large theropod may have feasted on already-dead carcasses rather than hunting live prey. And second, the skull is pitted with unusual lines and holes, which likely indicates the presence of armored skin and/or a fleshy display (like the wattle of a chicken) on this dinosaur's head. Rugops is also an important find because it provides evidence that, during the middle Cretaceous period, Africa was still attached by a land bridge to the northern supercontinent of Gondwana (whence other abelisaurs of Rugops' theropod family hailed, most notably the South American Abelisaurus).

67
of 83

Sauroniops

sauroniops
Sauroniops. Emiliano Troco

Name:

Sauroniops (Greek for "eye of Sauron"); pronounced sore-ON-ee-ops

Habitat:

Woodlands of northern Africa

Historical Period:

Middle-Late Cretaceous (95 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 30 feet long and two tons

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Unique eye shape; small bump on head

 

Sometimes, the name a dinosaur is given is inversely proportional to how much we know about it. The impressively named Sauroniops ("eye of Sauron," after the evil overlord in the Lord of the Rings trilogy) is represented in the fossil record by--wait for it--a single fragment of its skull, a six-inch-long "frontal," complete with an odd bulge on top, situated just above this dinosaur's eye socket.

Fortunately for the paleontologists who examined this remnant--which was originally in the possession of an unidentified Moroccan fossil dealer--this bit of a theropod dinosaur's skull is very characteristic, especially since these meat-eating dinosaurs weren't exactly thick on the ground in late Cretaceous northern Africa. Clearly, the fossil belonged to a dinosaur closely related to the well-known Carcharodontosaurus and the not-quite-as-well-known Eocarcharia.

Was Sauroniops truly the Lord of the Dinosaurs? Well, this theropod was clearly a good match for Carcharodontosaurus, measuring about 30 feet from head to tail and tipping the scales at upward of two tons. Aside from that, though, it remains a mystery--even that bump on its head, which may have functioned as a sexually selected characteristic (say, changing color during mating season) or may be a clue that Sauroniops males head-butted each other for dominance in the pack.

68
of 83

Saurophaganax

saurophaganax
Saurophaganax (Wikimedia Commons).

The most notable reconstruction of Saurophaganax, at a museum in Oklahoma City, uses fabricated, scaled-up bones derived from Allosaurus, the meat-eating dinosaur this theropod most closely resembled. See an in-depth profile of Saurophaganax

69
of 83

Siamosaurus

siamosaurus
Siamosaurus (Wikimedia Commons).

Name

Siamosaurus (Greek for "Siamese lizard"); pronounced SIE-ah-moe-SORE-us

Habitat

Woodlands of Asia

Historical Period

Early Cretaceous (125 million years ago)

Size and Weight

About 30 feet long and 2-3 tons

Diet

Possibly fish

Distinguishing Characteristics

Large size; narrow snout; bipedal posture

 

It's true that many dinosaurs are "diagnosed" on the basis of a single, fossilized tooth--but it's also true that many of these dinosaurs are looked on dubiously by other paleontologists, who require more convincing evidence. That's the case with Siamosaurus, which in 1986 was touted by its discoverers as the very first spinosaur (i.e., Spinosaurus-like theropod) ever to be discovered in Asia. (Since then, a comparably sized and better-attested spinosaur, Ichthyovenator, has been unearthed in Laos.) If Siamosaurus was in fact a spinosaur, it probably spent most of its day on the banks of rivers hunting for fish--and if it wasn't, then it may well have been another type of large theropod with a more diverse diet.

70
of 83

Siamotyrannus

siamotyrannus
Siamotyrannus. Sergey Krasovskiy

Name:

Siamotyrannus (Greek for "Siamese tyrant"); pronounced SIGH-ah-mo-tih-RAN-us

Habitat:

Woodlands of southeast Asia

Historical Period:

Early-Middle Cretaceous (125-100 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 20 feet long and 1,000-2,000 pounds

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Large size; small arms; bipedal posture

 

You might assume from its name that Siamotyrannus was an Asian contemporary, and close relative, of Tyrannosaurus Rex, but the fact is that this large theropod lived tens of millions of years before its more famous namesake--and is considered by most paleontologists to be a carnosaur rather than a true tyrannosaur. One of the few dinosaurs of any kind to be unearthed in modern-day Thailand, Siamotyrannus will have to be supported by more fossil discoveries before it takes up more than a footnote in the official theropod record books!

71
of 83

Siats

siats
Siats (Jorge Gonzalez).

Name

Siats (after a mythical Native American monster); pronounced SEE-atch

Habitat

Woodlands of North America

Historical Period

Middle Cretaceous (100 million years ago)

Size and Weight

About 35 feet long and four tons

Diet

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics

Large size; massive skull

 

Don't believe what you read in the popular press about Siats "terrorizing" or "beating down" Tyrannosaurus Rex: the fact is that this newly discovered North American theropod lived tens of millions of years before its more famous cousin, and it wasn't a tyrannosaur at all, but a type of large theropod known as a carcharodontosaur (and thus closely related to Carcharodontosaurus, and especially closely to Neovenator). Until the announcement of Siats in November 2013, the only other known carcharodontosaur from North America was Acrocanthosaurus, itself no slouch in the terrorizing-smaller-dinosaurs department.

What makes Siats such big news is, well, how big it was: this theropod measured well over 30 feet from head to tail and weighed in the neighborhood of four tons, which would make it the third-largest meat-eating dinosaur from North America, after T. Rex and Acrocanthosaurus. (In fact, since the "type specimen" of this dinosaur is a juvenile, we don't know exactly how big Siats would have been fully grown.) Those specs don't place Siats anywhere near the theropod record on other continents--witness the African Spinosaurus and the South American Giganotosaurus--but it was still an impressive meat-eater nonetheless.

72
of 83

Sigilmassasaurus

sigilmassasaurus
Sigilmassasaurus. Sergey Krasovskiy

Name

Sigilmassasaurus (Greek for "Sijilmassa lizard"); pronounced SIH-jill-MASS-ah-SORE-us

Habitat

Plains of northern Africa

Historical Period

Middle Cretaceous (100-95 million years ago)

Size and Weight

About 30 feet long and 1-2 tons

Diet

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics

Sharp teeth; bipedal posture

 

If you think the last thing the world needs is another dinosaur with an unpronounceable name, rest assured: very few paleontologists accept the validity of Sigilmassasaurus, though this carnivore has still managed to retain its place in the official record books. Discovered in Morocco, near the ancient city of Sijilmassa, Sigilmassasaurus had a lot in common with the better-known and equally multisyllabic Carcharodontosaurus ("great white shark lizard"), of which it was probably a species. However, the possibility does remain that Sigilmassasaurus deserves its genus designation--and that it may not be a carcharodontosaur at all, but another, undetermined type of large theropod.

73
of 83

Sinosaurus

sinosaurus
Sinosaurus (Wikimedia Commons).

Name

Sinosaurus (Greek for "Chinese lizard"); pronounced SIE-no-SORE-us

Habitat

Woodlands of Asia

Historical Period

Early Jurassic (200-190 million years ago)

Size and Weight

About 18 feet long and 1,000 pounds

Diet

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics

Paired crests on head; bipedal posture

 

Considering how many dinosaurs have been discovered in China, you might think a definitive name like Sinosaurus ("Chinese lizard") would be reserved for a particularly well-attested genus. The fact is, though, that the type fossil of Sinosaurus was discovered in 1948, well before the golden age of Chinese paleontology, and this dinosaur was regarded for the next few decades as a nomen dubium. Then, in 1987, the discovery of a second fossil specimen prompted paleontologists to reclassify Sinosaurus as a species of the North American Dilophosaurus, partly (but not only) because of the paired crests on top of this theropod's head.

That was how matters stood until 1993, when the famous Chinese paleontologist Dong Zhiming determined that D.sinensis deserved its own genus after all--at which point the slightly tainted name Sinosaurus was summoned back into usage. Oddly enough, it turns out that Sinosaurus was related most closely not to Dilophosaurus, but to Cryolophosaurus, a contemporary theropod of early Jurassic Antarctica! (By the way, Sinosaurus is one of the few known dinosaurs to have sustained dental trauma: one specimen had a tooth knocked out, presumably in combat, and thus sported a charming, gap-toothed smile.)

74
of 83

Sinraptor

sinraptor
Sinraptor. Wikimedia Commons

Name:

Sinraptor (Greek for "Chinese thief"); pronounced SIN-rap-tore

Habitat:

Woodlands of Asia

Historical Period:

Late Jurassic (150 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 25 feet long and one ton

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Large size; bipedal posture; sharp teeth

 

The name Sinraptor is misleading in two ways. First, the "sin" part doesn't mean this dinosaur was evil; it's simply a prefix meaning "Chinese." And second, Sinraptor wasn't a true raptor, a quick, fierce family of carnivorous dinosaurs that didn't arrive on the prehistoric scene until tens of millions of years later. Rather, Sinraptor is believed to have been a primitive allosaur (a type of large theropod) that was ancestral to such giant predators as Carcharodontosaurus and Giganotosaurus.

Based on when it lived, paleontologists have concluded that Sinraptor (and other allosaurs like it) preyed on the juveniles of the gigantic sauropods of the late Jurassic period. (The open-and-shut case: sauropod fossils have been discovered in China bearing the unmistakable imprint of Sinraptor tooth marks!)

75
of 83

Skorpiovenator

skorpiovenator
Skorpiovenator. Nobu Tamura

Name:

Skorpiovenator (Greek for "scorpion hunter"); pronounced SCORE-pee-oh-VEH-nah-tore

Habitat:

Woodlands of South America

Historical Period:

Middle Cretaceous (95 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 30 feet long and one ton

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Short, blunt skull; tiny arms

 

First things first: the name Skorpiovenator (Greek for "scorpion hunter") has nothing to do with this dinosaur's presumed diet; rather, it's because the sole fossil specimen was surrounded by a bustling colony of living scorpions. Other than its striking name, Skorpiovenator was an average large theropod of the middle Cretaceous period, with a short, blunt skull covered by a weird array of ridges and bumps. This has prompted experts to assign it to the abelisaurs, a sub-family of large theropods (poster genus: Abelisaurus) that were especially common in South America.

76
of 83

Spinosaurus

spinosaurus
Spinosaurus (Wikimedia Commons).

Why did Spinosaurus have a sail? The most likely explanation is that this structure evolved for cooling purposes in the hot Cretaceous climate; it may also have been a sexually selected characteristic, males with bigger sails having more success mating with females. See 10 Facts About Spinosaurus

77
of 83

Spinostropheus

spinostropheus
Spinostropheus. Nobu Tamura

Name:

Spinostropheus (Greek for "spined vertebrae"); pronounced SPY-no-STROH-fee-us

Habitat:

Woodlands of Africa

Historical Period:

Late Jurassic (150 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 12 feet long and a few hundred pounds

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Small size; bipedal posture

 

Spinostropheus is more interesting for what it reveals about how paleontology works than for how it lived (details of which are rather vague, anyway). For years, this small, two-legged dinosaur was thought to be a species of Elaphrosaurus, a genus of early theropod closely allied with Ceratosaurus; then further study classified it as an early abelisaur (and thus more closely related to large theropods like Abelisaurus), and then upon even further examination it was classified once more as a close relative of, but distinct genus from, Elaphrosaurus, and given its present name. Any questions?

78
of 83

Suchomimus

suchomimus
Suchomimus. Luis Rey

The name Suchomimus (Greek for "crocodile mimic") refers to this meat-eating dinosaur's long, toothy, and distinctly crocodilian snout, which it probably used to snap fish out of the rivers and streams of the then-lush Sahara region of northern Africa. See an in-depth profile of Suchomimus

79
of 83

Tarascosaurus

tarascosaurus
Tarascosaurus. Futura Sciences

Name:

Tarascosaurus (Greek for "tarasque lizard"); pronounced tah-RASS-coe-SORE-us

Habitat:

Woodlands of western Europe

Historical Period:

Late Cretaceous (80-70 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 30 feet long and 1-2 tons

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Long, thick head; powerful legs

 

Named after the tarasque, a dragon of medieval French legend, Tarascosaurus is important for being one of the only known abelisaurs (a type of large theropod) to have lived in the northern hemisphere; most abelisaurs were native to South America or Africa. The fossil remains of this 30-foot-long dinosaur are so scattered that some paleontologists don't believe it merits its own genus; still, this hasn't kept Tarascosaurus from being featured on the Discovery Channel series Dinosaur Planet (where it was portrayed as an apex predator of late Cretaceous western Europe). Recently, another abelisaur has been discovered in France, Arcovenator.

80
of 83

Torvosaurus

torvosaurus
Torvosaurus (Wikimedia Commons).

Name:

Torvosaurus (Greek for "savage lizard"); pronounced TORE-vo-SORE-us

Habitat:

Plains of North America and western Europe

Historical Period:

Late Jurassic (150-145 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 35 feet long and 1-2 tons

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Large size; short arms with long claws

 

As is the case with many other large theropods, it isn't yet widely accepted that Torvosaurus deserves its own genus: some paleontologists think this may actually have been a species of Allosaurus or some other existing genus of carnivorous dinosaur. Whatever the case, Torvosaurus was certainly one of the biggest meat-eaters of the late Jurassic period, slightly outweighing the more well-known Allosaurus (if it wasn't actually an Allosaurus itself, of course). Like all the predators of this time, Torvosaurus probably feasted on the babies and juveniles of gigantic sauropods and smaller ornithopods. (By the way, this dinosaur shouldn't be confused with the similar-sounding, and comparably sized, Tarbosaurus, an Asian tyrannosaur that lived tens of millions of years later.)

Recently, paleontologists discovered a new species of Torvosaurus, T. gurneyi, which at over 30 feet from head to tail and more than a ton is the largest identified carnivorous dinosaur of late Jurassic Europe. T. gurneyi wasn't quite as big as its North American equivalent, T. tanneri, but it was clearly the apex predator of the Iberian peninsula. (By the way, the species name gurneyi honors James Gurney, the author and illustrator of the book series Dinotopia.)

81
of 83

Tyrannotitan

tyrannotitan
Tyrannotitan (Wikimedia Commons).

The partial skeleton of Tyrannotitan was discovered in 2005 in South America, and it's still being analyzed. For now, suffice it to say that this appears to have been one of the most dangerous (and most fearsomely named) meat-eating dinosaurs ever to roam the planet. See an in-depth profile of Tyrannotitan

82
of 83

Xenotarsosaurus

xenotarsosaurus
Xenotarsosaurus. Sergey Krasovskiy

Name:

Xenotarsosaurus (Greek for "strange tarsus lizard"); pronounced ZEE-no-TAR-so-SORE-us

Habitat:

Woodlands of South America

Historical Period:

Late Cretaceous (70-65 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 20 feet long and one ton

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Bipedal posture; short arms

 

Paleontologists aren't quite sure what to make of Xenotarsosaurus, beyond the fact that it was a large theropod dinosaur of late Cretaceous South America. Tentatively, this meat eater has been classified as an abelisaur, and its stunted arms bear some resemblance to those of the much better-known Carnotaurus. However, there's also a case to be made that Xenotarsosaurus was an allosaur rather than an abelisaur, and thus more closely related to the North American Allosaurus (which lived tens of millions of years earlier). Whatever the case, associated fossil remains imply that Xenotarsosaurus preyed on Secernosaurus, the first hadrosaur ever to be identified in South America.

83
of 83

Yangchuanosaurus

yangchuanosaurus
Yangchuanosaurus. Dmitri Bogdanov

Name:

Yangchuanosaurus (Greek for "Yangchuan lizard"); pronounced YANG-chwan-oh-SORE-us

Habitat:

Woodlands of Asia

Historical Period:

Late Jurassic (155-145 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 25 feet long and 2-3 tons

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Large size; long tail; bony ridges on face

 

For all intents and purposes, Yangchuanosaurus filled the same niche in late Jurassic Asia as its fellow large theropod, Allosaurus, did in North America: an apex predator that harassed the numerous sauropods and stegosaurs of its lush ecosystem. The 25-foot-long, two- to three-ton Yangchuanosaurus possessed an especially long, muscular tail, as well as distinctive ridges and decorations on its face (which were similar to those of a smaller theropod, Ceratosaurus, and may have been brightly colored during mating season). One prominent paleontologist has suggested that Yangchuanosaurus may be the same dinosaur as Metriacanthosaurus, but not everyone is convinced.