Ceratosaurus popped up in Jurassic Park III at one point – but what do we know about the dinosaur?
Like a ’56 T-Bird parked in a car park full of hybrids, Ceratosaurus shared its range with several less-archaic carnivores. This primitive predator really stands out in films and in museums, which helps explain the odd dino’s enduring popularity.
1. Ceratosaurus Had an Armored Backside.
A row of bony plates called osteoderms ran down the animal’s spine. They probably didn’t offer much defense, but they sure helped Ceratosaurus score some major style points!
2. It Might Have had Semi-Aquatic Habits.
Like modern gators, Ceratosaurus came with a strong, broad, and flexible tail—and the animal’s teeth are sometimes found scattered near lungfish skeletons. So was it amphibious? According to paleontologist Robert Bakker, the idea has merit. He’s even envisioned Ceratosaurus as a wannabe crocodile of sorts, stealthily lurking beneath Jurassic rivers. But while this dinosaur was likely a halfway-decent swimmer, many feel that Bakker’s very speculative hypothesis can’t keep its head above the water.
3. It’s Been a Movie Star for Over 100 Years.
Audiences watched the bonafide celebrity stalk cavemen in Brute Force (1914), take on Triceratops in One Million Years B.C.(1966), and gag at the sight of Spinosaurus poop in Jurassic Park III (2001).
4. Some Argue that This Creature Directly Competed with the Better-Known Allosaurus.
Both carnivores stalked Utah and Colorado 150 million years ago, and both had nasty jaws designed for slicing (as opposed to crushing bone and all that fun stuff). Because similar bites often mean similar diets, maybe these two titans hunted the same game. Or they might have found separate niches and steered clear of each other—Allosaurus did have proportionately-smaller teeth, after all. Regardless, the late Jurassic was clearly a tough time to be an herbivore.
5. Scientists Still Aren’t Sure About What Ceratosaurus Did With its Dynamic Nasal Horn.
In 1920, an American geologist named Charles Whitney Gilmore wrote that Ceratosaurus’ horn “formed a useful weapon for offense and defense.” Nowadays, however, this thing’s function no longer seems quite so clear-cut. Thin and probably on the fragile side, most 21st-century specialists hold that Ceratosaurus’ best-known feature was better-suited for display than combat.
6. It Featured Unusually Long Teeth.
One specimen manages to look just as scary with its mouth shut. This dino’s upper teeth are so long that—when the creature’s maw assumes a “closed” position—they extend below the lower jaw!
7. Ceratosaurus was Relatively Rare
Allosaurus seems to have been far more common than Ceratosaurus. The latter, bumpy-snouted predator is only known from a relative handful of skeletons. Meanwhile, very few dinos are as well-represented by the fossil record as Allosaurus: A single quarry contains assorted bones belonging to at least 44 individuals. How many Ceratosaurus specimens has this same site yielded? One.
8. Its Remains Have Been Found on Three Different Continents.
Though frequently cited as a North American creature, Ceratosaurus material has also turned up in Portugal and Tanzania.
9. Size-Wise, Not all Ceratosaurus Were Created Equal.
Ceratosaurus dentisculatus could have really done some damage. While the 18-foot Ceratosaurus nasicornis is, by far, this genus’ most famous species, C. dentisculatus was noticeably longer, with an estimated length of over 23 feet (7 metres)—and it may been twice as massive.
10. Ceratosaurus was Named by One of America’s Greatest Paleontologists.
Othniel Charles Marsh (1832-1899) also introduced the world to such prehistoric icons as Stegosaurus, Triceratops, Allosaurus, Diplodocus, and Apatosaurus. Plus, he lobbied for Native American rights, regularly corresponded with Charles Darwin, and was among the first to suggest that present-day birds evolved from dinosaurs.
Iguanodon (meaning “iguana-tooth”) is a genus of ornithopod dinosaur that existed roughly halfway between the first of the swift bipedal hypsilophodontids of the mid-Jurassic and the duck-billed dinosaurs of the late Cretaceous. While many species have been classified in the genus Iguanodon, dating from the late Jurassic Period to the early Cretaceous Period of Asia, Europe, and North America, research in the first decade of the 21st century suggests that there is only one well-substantiated species: I. bernissartensis, which lived from the late Barremian to the earliest Aptian ages (Early Cretaceous) in Belgium, Spain, and possibly elsewhere in Europe, between about 126 and 125 million years ago. Iguanodon were large, bulky herbivores. Distinctive features include large thumb spikes, which were possibly used for defense against predators, combined with long prehensile fifth fingers able to forage for food.
The genus was named in 1825 by English geologist Gideon Mantell, based on fossil specimens that are now assigned to Therosaurus and Mantellodon. Iguanodon was the second type of dinosaur formally named based on fossil specimens, after Megalosaurus. Together with Megalosaurus and Hylaeosaurus, it was one of the three genera originally used to define Dinosauria. The genus Iguanodon belongs to the larger group Iguanodontia, along with the duck-billed hadrosaurs. The taxonomy of this genus continues to be a topic of study as new species are named or long-standing ones reassigned to other genera.
Scientific understanding of Iguanodon has evolved over time as new information has been obtained from fossils. The numerous specimens of this genus, including nearly complete skeletons from two well-known bonebeds, have allowed researchers to make informed hypotheses regarding many aspects of the living animal, including feeding, movement, and social behaviour. As one of the first scientifically well-known dinosaurs, Iguanodon has occupied a small but notable place in the public’s perception of dinosaurs, its artistic representation changing significantly in response to new interpretations of its remains.
The thumb spike is one of the best-known features of Iguanodon. Although it was originally placed on the animal’s nose by Mantell, the complete Bernissart specimens allowed Dollo to place it correctly on the hand, as a modified thumb. (This would not be the last time a dinosaur’s modified thumb claw would be misinterpreted; Noasaurus, Baryonyx, and Megaraptorare examples since the 1980s where an enlarged thumb claw was first put on the foot, as in dromaeosaurids.)
This thumb is typically interpreted as a close-quarter stiletto-like weapon against predators, although it could also have been used to break into seeds and fruits, or against other Iguanodon. One author has suggested that the spike was attached to a venom gland, but this has not been accepted, as the spike was not hollow, nor were there any grooves on the spike for conducting venom.
Hypsilophodon (meaning “Hypsilophus-tooth”) is an ornithopod dinosaur genus from the Early Cretaceous period of England.
The first remains of Hypsilophodon were found in 1849; the type species, Hypsilophodon foxii, was named in 1869. Abundant fossil discoveries were made on the Isle of Wight, giving a good impression of the build of the species. It was a small bipedal animal with an herbivorous or possibly omnivorous diet. Hypsilophodon reached up to 1.8 metres (5.9 ft) in length, weighed about 20 kg (45 lbs), and was an agile runner. It had a pointed head equipped with a sharp beak used to bite off plant material, much like modern day parrots.
Older studies have given rise to number of misconceptions about Hypsilophodon: that it would climb trees, were armoured, reached a length of 2.3 metres (7.5 ft) and were also found outside of Wight. During the past decades new research has gradually shown this to be incorrect.
Hypsilophodon was a relatively small dinosaur, though not quite so small as, for example, Compsognathus. For Hypsilophodonoften a maximum length of 2.3 metres is stated. This has its origin in a study of 1974 by Galton, in which he extrapolated a length of 2.28 metres based on specimen BMNH R 167, a thigh bone. However, in 2009, Galton concluded that this femur in fact belonged to Valdosaurus and downsized Hypsilophodon to a maximum known length of 1.8 metres, the largest specimen being NHM R5829 with a femur length of 202 millimetres. Typical specimens are about 1.5 metres long. Hypsilophodon would have reached up to half a metre in height. In 2010, Gregory S. Paul estimated a weight of 20 kilograms (44 lb) for an animal two metres in length.
Like most small dinosaurs, Hypsilophodon was bipedal: it ran on two legs. Its entire body was built for running. A light-weight, minimized skeleton, low, aerodynamic posture, long legs and stiff tail, immobilised by ossified tendons, for balance: all would have allowed it to travel remarkably fast for its size. Galton in 1974 concluded it would have been among the ornithischians best adapted to running.
Heterodontosaurus was a small, lightly-built dinosaur with three different kinds of teeth (hence its name) and a beak. The sharp, cutting front, upper teeth were used for biting against the horny beak, the cheek teeth were for grinding food, and it also had two pairs of long, canine-like teeth that fit into sockets. It had five-fingered hands with claws, and three-toed feet with claws. Its back legs were longer than its front legs. It had a long, stiff tail.
Heterodontosaurus was about the size of a turkey, 50 inches long (1.3 m) and 20 inches tall (50 cm). It weighed about 42 pounds (19 kg).
Heterodontosaurus lived in the late Triassic to early Jurassic period, roughly 208 to 200 million years ago. Large predators from that time were: pterosaurs, and crocodilians. Other dinosaurs from South Africa who lived during the lower Jurassic include: Massospondylus, Thecodontosaurus, Lanasaurus, and Lesothosaurus.
Heterodontosaurus was an herbivore (plant-eater). It had three different kinds of teeth. These teeth were specialized for biting, grinding, and tearing its food. They may have stored food in cheek pouches.
Heterodontosaurus was an ornithopod, whose intelligence (as measured by its relative brain to body weight, or EQ) was midway among the dinosaurs.
Heterodontosaurus was a relatively fast, bipedal (two-legged) dinosaur. It may have run on two legs and walked on four.
A Heterodontosaurus fossil was first found in South Africa. It was named by Alan J. Charig and Alfred W. Crompton in 1962.
Heterodontosaurus was a very early Ornithischian dinosaur, the order of bird-hipped, herbivorous dinosaurs. It was an Ornithopod ( the bird-footed, beaked, bipedal, herbivorous dinosaurs), and belonged to the family Heterodontosauridae. The type species is H. tucki.
Herrerasaurus was one the first dinosaurs and was native to South America and was the apex predator of its homeland.
Herrerasaurus was one of the earliest dinosaurs. Its name means “Herrera’s lizard”, after the rancher who discovered the first specimen. All known fossils of this carnivore have been discovered in rocks of Carnian age (late Triassic according to the ICS, dated to 231.4 million years ago) in northwestern Argentina.
Oscar Alcober, Ricardo Martinez – Alcober OA, Martinez RN (2010) A new herrerasaurid (Dinosauria, Saurischia) from the Upper Triassic Ischigualasto Formation of northwestern Argentina. ZooKeys 63 : 55–81. doi:10.3897/zookeys.63.550
The type species, Herrerasaurus ischigualastensis, was described by Osvaldo Reig in 1963 and is the only species assigned to the genus. Ischisaurus and Frenguellisaurus are synonyms.
For many years, the classification of Herrerasaurus was unclear because it was known from very fragmentary remains. It was hypothesized to be a basal theropod, a basal sauropodomorph, a basal saurischian, or not a dinosaur at all but another type of archosaur. However, with the discovery of an almost complete skeleton and skull in 1988, Herrerasaurus has been classified as either an early theropod or an early saurischian in at least five recent reviews of theropod evolution, with many researchers treating it at least tentatively as the most primitive member of Theropoda.
It is a member of the Herrerasauridae, a family of similar genera that were among the earliest of the dinosaurian evolutionary radiation. Herrerasaurids may be predatory, but are sometimes considered too primitive to be actual theropods.
Giganotosaurus is a genus of theropod dinosaur that lived in what is now Argentina, during the early Cenomanian age of the Late Cretaceous period, approximately 99.6 to 97 million years ago. The holotype specimen was discovered in the Candeleros Formation of Patagonia in 1993, and is almost 70% complete. The animal was named G. carolinii in 1995; the genus name translates as “giant southern lizard” and the specific name honours the discoverer, Rubén D. Carolini. A dentary bone, a tooth and some tracks, discovered before the holotype, were later assigned to this animal. The genus attracted much interest and became part of a scientific debate about the maximum sizes of theropod dinosaurs.
Giganotosaurus was one of the largest known terrestrial carnivores, but the exact size has been hard to determine due to the incompleteness of the remains found so far. Estimates for the most complete specimen range from a length of 12 to 13 m (39 to 43 ft), a skull 1.53 to 1.80 m (5.0 to 5.9 ft) in length, and a weight of 4.2 to 13.8 t (4.6 to 15.2 short tons). The dentary bone that belonged to a supposedly larger individual has been used to extrapolate a length of 13.2 m (43 ft). Some researchers have found the animal to be larger than Tyrannosaurus, which has historically been considered the largest theropod, while others have found them to be equal in size, and the largest size estimates for Giganotosaurus exaggerated. The skull was low, with rugose (rough and wrinkled) nasal bones and a ridge-like crest on the lacrimal bone in front of the eye. The front of the lower jaw was flattened, and had a downwards projecting process (or “chin”) at the tip. The teeth were compressed sideways and had serrations. The neck was strong and the pectoral girdle proportionally small.
Part of the family Carcharodontosauridae, Giganotosaurus is one of the most completely known members of the group, which includes other very large theropods, such as the closely related Mapusaurus and Carcharodontosaurus. Giganotosaurusis thought to have been homeothermic (a type of “warm-bloodedness”), with a metabolism between that of a mammal and a reptile, which would have enabled fast growth. It may have been relatively slow-moving, with a suggested running speed of 14 metres per second (50 km/h; 31 mph). It would have been capable of closing its jaws quickly, capturing and bringing down prey by delivering powerful bites. The “chin” may have helped in resisting stress when a bite was delivered against prey. Giganotosaurus is thought to have been the apex predator of its ecosystem, and it may have fed on juvenile sauropod dinosaurs.
Coria and Salgado originally found Giganotosaurus to group more closely with the theropod clade tetanurae than to more basal (or “primitive”) theropods such as ceratosaurs, due to shared features (synapomorphies) in the legs, skull, and pelvis. Other features showed that it was outside the more derived (or “advanced”) clade coelurosauria. In 1996, Sereno and colleagues found Giganotosaurus, Carcharodontosaurus, and Acrocanthosaurus to be closely related within the superfamily Allosauroidea, and grouped them in the family Carcharodontosauridae. Features shared between these genera include the lacrimal and postorbital bones forming a broad “shelf” over the orbit, and the squared front end of the lower jaw.