In our 24th episode of I Know Dino, we had the pleasure of speaking with Amaury Michel, the winner of our I Know Dino podcast giveaway in March, who has also been on two dinosaur digs: one in the Morrison Formation in Wyoming and one in the Prince Creek Formation in Alaska.
He was kind enough to share some pictures from his experiences:
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In this episode, we discuss:
- The dinosaur of the day: Carcharodontosaurus saharicus (Carcharodon is the group including the great white shark and megalodon) name was chosen because the teeth are sharp and serrated in a similar manner to the great white sharks, something that meant they could slice through the flesh of prey like sharp knives
- Originally described as Megalosaurus saharicus because as we mentioned before Megalosaurus was used as a “catch-all” taxon at the time.
- Because bones were destroyed during a bombing raid during WWII it hasn’t been as popular as T-Rex, but since the large skull was re-discovered in 1995, it is growing in popularity again (seen in several video games and the BBC series Planet Dinosaur)
- Carcharodontosaurus fossils were first published by Charles Depéret and J. Savornin in North Africa in 1927. Originally called Megalosaurus saharicus, its name was changed in 1931 by Ernst Stromer von Reichenbach.
- The Carcharodontosaurus is a large theropod dinosaur. These large dinosaurs typically walked on two legs (Theropoda is Greek for “beast feet”)
- Like Giganotosaurus it had 8-inch-long serrated teeth.
- It was about 13,000 pounds and was about 43 feet long probably slightly larger than T-rex. Also had a massive tail, a bulky body, and heavy bones. Its arms were short and had three-fingered hands with sharp claws.
- Closest common lineage to the T-rex is that they are both in the Tetanuran clade which started about 100my before Carcharodontosaurus.
- Carcharodontosaurus is often falsely dubbed the ‘African T-rex’, something which has misled many people into thinking that they are the same.
- Carcharodontosaurushas laterally compressed (flattened) teeth that slice through flesh. Tyrannosaurus in contrast has round conical teeth for crushing bone. Include other differences such as size and shape of the skull and overall body proportions, and it is clear that the two are completely unrelated.
- Paleontologists once thought that Carcharodontosaurus had the longest skull of any of the theropod dinosaurs. However, the premaxilla and quadrate bones were missing from the original African skull, which led to misinterpretion of its actual size by researchers. A more modest length of five feet, four inches.
- The Carcharodontosaurus lived during the Late Cretaceous Period (100-93mya).
- The Carcharodontosaurus most lived on what is now modern day northern Africa
- South America had likely just broken apart from Africa during that time, and it’s probably why Carcharodontosaurus and its relatives from South America are so alike in appearance. It’s environment was likely very warm and humid, with many rivers and lakes flowing through, considering Spinosaurus and Sarcosuchus (both aquatic/semi-aquatic predators) have been found in the same location.
- Although it was likely top-predator in the area, Carhcarodontosaurus was probably very territorial and had large areas of territory, which would likely have to fight for against rivals and other huge predators in the area, like Spinosaurus and Sarcosuchus, and even relatives like Sauroniops, Deltadromeus, and Bahariasaurus.
- The huge teeth were probably a key to the hunting strategy of Carcharodontosaurus. Carcharodontosaurus would probably create a massive open wound which would probably cause the animal to go into shock and disoriente it allowing Carcharodontosaurus to easily finish it off or just wait for it to bleed to death.
- Probably came into conflict with the largest carnivorous dinosaur of all time – Spinosaurus
- Carcharodontosaurus was a carnivore, with enormous jaws and long, serrated teeth up to eight inches long. It may have hunted in packs like its smaller cousin Allosaurus, but no fossil evidence of this exists. It may have been a scavenger as well as an active predator. It had a large head with over 60 8-inch (19 cm.), blade-like teeth, which were designed to pierce and tear apart the flesh of its prey, which mostly consisted of the large sauropod Paralititan and a hadrosaur called Ouranosaurus. It’s arms were somewhat short, but still longer than T. rex’s and still quite strong. They had three claws on each of its fingers, which could’ve been used to get a better grab on some of its smaller prey.
- Carcharodontosaurus had long, muscular legs, and fossilized trackways indicate that it could run about 20 miles per hour, although there is some controversy as to whether it actually did, because of its huge body mass.
- The smaller brain size of Carcharodontosaurus was probably pre-determined by its archosaurian ancestry as many theropods of its ancestral line also have similar brain sizes meaning that while their bodies grew bigger, the brains stayed the same bringing a halt to further biological development. The coelurosaurian dinosaurs however, the lineage that would include Tyrannosaurusand the transitional line to birds developed their brains away from the older archosaurian form allowing for the potential of greater reasoning.
- The inner ear anatomy of Carcharodontosaurus saharicus resembled modern crocodilians. The portion of the brain involving smell is quite large in Carhcarodontosaurus, suggesting a good sense of smell, probably even better than today’s dogs and rivaling the Tyrannosaurus.
- Fun fact: