June 4, 2012 · 0 comments in Albertosaurus,Carnivores

Albertosaurus Was a Smaller Tyrannosaurus Rex

A relative of the Tyrannosaurus Rex, Albertosaurus was named after the place where the first fossil was found in Alberta, Canada. Since then, this dinosaur has been compared and confused with its larger predatory cousin. With the same physical attributes only in lesser sizes, the Albertosaurus is commonly misrepresented as weaker and less adept. However, below you’ll find information and scientific discoveries that have made this dinosaur a smaller, but more unique, T-Rex alternative.

Quick Facts

Name Albertosaurus
Prehistoric Era Late Cretaceous
Classification Carnivore
Order Saurischia
Suborder Theropoda
Weight 2.72 metric tons (3 short tons)
Length 9.14 meters (30 ft)
Height 3.4 meters (11 ft) at the hips
Maximum Speed 8-13 mph
Territory Western North America, Canada

What Did Albertosaurus Look Like?

Natural History Museum: Albertosaurus

Image Courtesy of Flickr User djwudi

Albertosaurus Was A Canadian Carnivore 75 Million Years Ago

Found originally near what is now Alberta, Canada, the Albertosaurus was a vicious meat-eater with an affinity for herbivores of the same size. Rows of razor-sharp teeth awaited the unlucky prey that would cross paths with the Albertosaurus 75 million years ago. As an early Tyrannosaur, these creatures were described as smart and quick with relations to the popular T-Rex.

Physical Attributes of Albertosaurus

Weighing in at nearly 3 tons, it’s hard to believe Albertosaurus was one of the smaller carnivores in the late Cretaceous era. A length of 30 feet and a height of 11 feet meant this dinosaur was likely eye-to-eye with many herbivorous prey animals. Albertosaurus was also blessed with thick trunk-like legs that were powerful enough to provide support for a long tail and a large head. The only small part about this Theropod was it’s arms which were drawn in close the the dinosaur’s body. Sharp teeth and powerful clawed-toes made this one of the most efficient predators of it’s time.

Likeness Between Albertosaurus And T-Rex

Albertosaurus skull

Image Courtesy of Flickr User mypointyshoes

Albertosaurus and T-Rex are similar in more ways than they’re different. They both thrive on a carnivorous diet, slicing and ripping with their sharp teeth and well-developed jaw muscles. They’re both bipedal with hollow bones, short two-fingered arms, and a wide walking girth with a thick tail for counter-balance. The T-Rex and Albertosaurus also have large heads, poor eyesight, and premium hearing.

Though that’s where the similarities end. Albertosaurus, while smaller, was more intelligent than a T-Rex. A larger brain meant these dinosaurs could strategize, finding new ways to get their prey and learning from previous mistakes. Albertosaurus was also the first in a long line of carnivorous breeds, living at least 2 million years before T-Rex.

What Did Albertosaurus Eat?

The Albertosaurus  was a carnivore; a fact made more disturbing by the speculation that these creatures were also intelligent enough to hunt in packs, taking down larger well-armored herbivores with ease. Their smaller, more compact size gave them an advantage, making it less of a hassle to catch up to slow and dim-witted prey.

How Did Albertosaurus Move?

Unfortunately, the little arms and larger body of the Albertosaurus made it easier for them to topple when running. They could only safely reach speeds of up to 13 mph without the fear of falling over. With their small upper anatomy, it would have been next to impossible to have lifted themselves back into a standing position. Falling led to the death of many of these Cretaceous carnivores.

Juvenile Albertosaurus could move quicker for a short period of time. Although, with a growth rate of almost 300 pounds per year, their body mass began slowing them down after only a few months of life. It’s possible that a baby Albertosaurus could have been temporary prey for larger and more dangerous predators.

The Prey of Albertosaurus

Paleontologists believe the Albertosaurus ate mostly plant-eaters, but they weren’t offended by the idea of feasting on another carnivore’s new offspring. These dinosaurs would eat anything if it were meat-based and if they could catch it. As stated above, there’s a belief that these animals also hunted in packs, providing their group with a wider range of meaty possibilities.

The History & Discovery of Albertosaurus

Where Did Albertosaurus Live?

With fossils originating from Canada and parts of North America, it has been determined that the Albertosaurus moved around over the continent. They moved predominantly into the wooded forests of commonly dry areas where their body temperatures could be easily maintained. Albertosaurus had a low tolerance for colder climates, choosing to stick towards the naturally warmer hemisphere.

Albertosaurus Specimen Discovery

Albertosaurus lived almost 75 million years ago, but their fossils weren’t discovered until 1884 when Joseph Burr Tyrrell unearthed several bones in Alberta, Canada. The remains were studied and named 6 months later by paleontogist H.F. Osborn.

It was Osborn’s friend and fellow digger, Philip Currie, who uncovered the first “nest” of Albertosaurus in an unknown location in Western North America. There were a total of 9 Albertosaurus, ranging in ages from juvenile to adult which gave the impression that these dinosaurs were hunting, sleeping, and living in small packs. This theory is still under heavy debate and explanation; the reason why it’s still a mystery why all 9 fossils were found lying together.

Some Albertosaurus fossils have been found with fractured legs, ribs, and other broken bones due to their unbalanced, lumbering walk. Several have apparently died where they lay after having fallen and being unable to get back up.

The Significance of Albertosaurus In History

Albertosaurus has given paleontologists and researchers a great deal to think about. The terrifying thought that these animals roamed in groups has yet to be proven, but if it is, it’ll change the way paleontology views predatory dinosaurs. It would mean their intelligence levels were above where we previously speculated. Albertosaurus fossil studies have opened the proverbial door to expand beliefs about other dinosaur predators.

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Amy is the resident palaeontologist-wanna-be here at Ever since she was three years old she has been fascinated with dino's of all types but most particularly those cute and lovable Hadrosauridae. In an effort to satisfy her inner three year old she set about to create an educational resource for dinosaur lovers worldwide here at

Amy has written 215 awesome articles for us at DinoPit

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