Carcharodontosaurus Lived over 93 million years ago
Carcharodontosaurus (pronounced Car-kah-roe-don-to sore-us ) was one of the biggest carnivorous dinosaurs of the North African region where it called home. It lived 93 to 100 million years ago and was found to be second in size for predatory dinosaurs. Carcharodontosaurus was larger than Tyrannosaurus and Giganotosaurus, although probably with a smaller brain, and smaller than Spinosaurus. It was named after its long sharp teeth by Ernst Stromer von Reichenbbach in 1931. The root word, Carcharodon, comes from the shark genus- most notably the Great White Shark (Carcharadon Carcharias) and refers to the dinosaur’s shark-like, or jagged, teeth.
|Prehistoric Era||Middle Cretaceous|
|Weight||6 – 8 Short Tons (5.4 – 7.25 Tonnes)|
|Length||8-14 Meters (26-44 Feet)|
|Height||3.6 Meters (12 foot)|
|Maximum Speed||20 MPH|
What did Carcharodontosaurus look like?
Carcharodontosaurus was a Deadly North African Theropod
Carcharodontosaurus was best known for it’s enormous size and deadly serrated teeth. They made him a ferocious and very successful predatory dinosaur. It has been sometimes referred to as the “African Tyrannosaurus Rex”, but that is misleading because the only similarities between the two are that they are dinosaurs and carnivorous theropods. Besides the Carcharadontosaurus being larger, the two predators also had different teeth for different purposes. Tyrannosaurus had round teeth for crushing bone and Carcharadontosaurus had long, sharp but flattened teeth for slicing through flesh. The latter was also bigger with different body proportions and skull shape.
Carcharodontosaurus had physical attributes that made it well equipped for it’s main job of hunting. At it’s length of up to 14 meters, it was very long. It was extremely heavy as well. It was at least 6 tons and some estimates put its weight as high as 15 tons. Its enormous jaws and shark-like teeth, that could reach up to 8 inches in length, were also important hunting tools. Paleontologists once thought that Carcharodontosaurus had the longest skull of all the theropods, but it was later found that the fossils were misinterpreted. Now the skull is believed to have been about 1.6 meters in length. The longest theropod skull does belong to a closely related dinosaur, the Giganotosaurus. Hans C. E. Larsson has studied the body to brain ratios of dinosaurs and found that as the bodies of non-avian reptiles get larger, the brain gets proportionately smaller. That is true if one compares Carcharodontosaurus to Tyrannosaurus. Carcharodontosaurus had a larger body than Tyrannosaurus. But Tyrannosaurus had a larger brain than Carcharodontosaurus.
What did Carcharodontosaurus eat?
Carcharadontosaurus were territorial meat eaters
Carcharadontosaurus was a meat eater, and an enormous one, so it needed an enormous range for hunting. Experts estimate that each one may have needed up to 500 square km, or 310 square miles, to find food. Territorial fights would have been common among individual Carcharadontosaurus since competition was so fierce. In addition to them fighting each other, there would have been fights between different species. Paleontologists have found deep bite marks on the heads of carnivorous dinosaur fossils all over the world. Fighting for territory was the norm among all huge meat eaters.
Special Lungs made it a Highly Active Hunter
Paleontologists found evidence of air sacs in a thorough bone analysis of Carcharadontosaurus fossils. Similar to modern birds, a system of air sacs would have been used in breathing. Oxygen would have been constantly flowing through the lungs allowing Carcharadontosaurus an efficient and very active lifestyle. It would have covered a lot of ground throughout the day to get all of the meat it needed to survive and this kind of breathing system was essential. The quantity of meat that a dinosaur of that size would need has been estimated at about 132 pounds per day. In addition to being chased quickly, the prey was also killed quickly. Carcharodontosaurus used its especially sharp teeth and huge jaws to instantly create a massive wound that bled so fast that the animal was put into shock at once. It also benefited from a large optic nerve and is thought to have been a primarily visual hunter as well as needing the aid of smell, like other predators.
How did Carcharodontosaurus move?
Thanks to its efficient breathing system and huge build, Carcharodontosaurus was able to cover a large distance everyday which he needed in order to hunt, as mentioned above. It was bipedal and ran across the dry ground on it’s rear limbs, like other therapod dinosaurs.
History and Discovery of Carcharodontosaurus
The first fossils of Carcharodontosaurus were found 4 years before it received it’s current name. Charles Depéret and J. Savornin found them in 1927 in Algeria. It was originally mistakenly referred to as Megalosaurus until later Stromer renamed it after the shark genus, describing the teeth as “not recurved, almost bilaterally symmetrical but with convex edges.”
More Carcharodontosaurus fossils were discovered in central Egypt, but these, along with the Algerian remains were destroyed in World War II. Fortunately, more fossils have been recovered since then. First in Morocco’s Kem Kem Formation in 1995, then in Niger’s Echkar Formation in 1997.
The Historical Significance of Carcharodontosaurus
Carcharodontosaurus has increased in popularity since the mid 1990s when new Carcharodontosaurus fossils were discovered. The new Carcharodontosaurus material helped paleontologists learn more about the dinosaur’s brain in particular, and more about non-avian reptile brains in particular.