Yanai Name Meaning: Meat Eating Bull

recit de rencontre sexe Geologic Era: Late Cretaceous

Tomilino Location Found: Argentina (specimen is a cast)

Ocotal Estimated Range: Modern South America

Size: Up to 9 meters long

Extinction: 69.9 million years ago

Pictured below is the skull of Carnotaurus, at 1/4 scale. The skull does come in two pieces (upper and lower jaws), which the previous owner glued together. I was inclined to leave them that way, for fear of damaging the cast. The Assistant Curator had other ideas. He managed to separate the halves (without damage), and then smacked me in the calf with the lower jaw. I will say, Prehistoric Store does market a fine quality specimen that can hold up to abuse from a one-year old.

Cast of skull

The shortened skull profile is characteristic of abelisaurs, of which Carnotaurus is a member. Abelisaurs also typically possessed very short, stubby arms in proportion to their bodies, as well as stocky legs. In general, Carnotaurus gives the impression of a compact, quick predator with some rather unique skull ornamentation. The function of the horns is unknown, though they could have very easily been for display. As of this writing, only one specimen of Carnotaurus has been unearthed, so there is no way of knowing yet if the horns were different from animal to animal (for example, perhaps males had larger horns than females). Only time and further specimens will shed light on that question.

Carnotaurus was the fastest large predatory dinosaur to walk the Earth, capable of reaching speeds of 35 miles per hour in a straight run. This speed came at a price, however. The muscle that allowed for powerful forward leg movement (the caudofemoralis) was extremely large, which accounts for the high speed this animal was capable of producing. In contrast, the muscles in the hip and tail that allowed for turns ( the longissimus and spinalis) were reduced. This meant that Carnotaurus would have been tough to beat in a straight sprint, but a couple of quick turns would enable prey to outdistance it.

To me, most of the evidence points to Carnotaurus as being an ambush predator. A quick strike from the forest’s edge would not allow a prey animal to quickly turn and flee, giving Carnotaurus the opportunity to grab the animal with its jaws. Analysis shows that Carnotaurus had a bite stronger than a modern alligator, so it was more than capable of clamping down. Another possible strategy in my mind is to use its forward momentum to overbalance and knock over a prey animal, such as a juvenile titanosaur. Such animals were steady on their feet with their pillar like legs, but if knocked on their side, would have a difficult time rising again. This scenario would give Carnotaurus ample opportunity to use its mouthful of teeth for their purpose. All in all, an intriguing animal.

Image Credits:

Skeleton: By Roberto Murta – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8484749

Life Restoration: By Fred Wierum – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=61422033