Carcharodontosaurus - The "Shark-Toothed Lizard"

Carcharodontosaurus is one of the most famous large carnivorous dinosaurs. It lived in Africa during the Late Cretaceous period and was first discovered and described by French explorers Charles Depéret and J. Savornin (1925) in North Africa.

It was one of the largest and heaviest carnivores not only of its time, but was probably the largest terrestrial predator ever known. Some experts suggest that it may have been at least 10% larger than Giganotosaurus, the largest known carnivorous dinosaur up to that time.

It grew up to 15 meters long and moved bipedally. Its arms were short, yet powerful. Compared to Tyrannosaurus rex, however, its arms were still longer. On its hands it had 3 fingers each with long claws, which were used for better grasping, perhaps even for killing prey.

Carcharodontosaurus had a skull that was among the largest of all carnivorous dinosaurs.

Its head was almost as long as the size of an average human.

Prehistoric EraLate Cretaceous, Cenomanian  100.5 to 93.9 million years ago
SpeciesC. saharicus , C. iguidensis
Height5 meter
Length13.7 Meter
Weight5 tons
TerritoryAfrica (Morocco, Egypt, Niger, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia)

Carcharodontosaurus was a close relative of Giganotosaurus

Carcharodontosaurus was a huge, heavily built theropod dinosaur that roamed the plains of the ancient Northern Hemisphere during the Late Cretaceous period about 90 million years ago. This is a time when the supercontinent Pangaea was already beginning to break apart, lowering sea levels and making the world's climate warmer and drier. And it was also a time when theropods like Carcharodontosaurus became the dominant large carnivores.

The shark-toothed lizard is a member of the Allosauroidea family and was a close relative of Giganotosaurus and several others. The family is characterized by relatively very large, robust teeth. They had short, broad skulls that were very strong.

In terms of size and weight, it could rival its close relative, the ten-ton Giganotosaurus from South America.

Carchorodontosaurus Size
Carchorodontosaurus Size

Carcharodontosaurus is sometimes called the "African T. rex"

Many people are familiar with Tyrannosaurus rex, which is often called the king of dinosaurs. But Carcharodontosaurus is almost as famous. This dinosaur has similar features to T. rex, but was slightly larger and probably more deadly. Because of its similarity to Tyrannosaurus Rex, it is often called the African T. rex.

What does the name Carcharodontosaurus mean?

This dinosaur was named by paleontologist Ernst Stromer von Reichenbach and means "shark-toothed lizard". Stromer had a penchant for naming dinosaurs after ancient sea monsters and lizards, the latter of which could explain where the "shark" part of the name comes from. They reminded him the teeth of the shark genus Carcharodon. The "Great White Shark" (Carcharodon carcharias) also belongs to this genus.

Carcharodontosaurus Skull
Carcharodontosaurus Skull

How great was the biting power of Carcharodontosaurus?

It had serrated teeth on both sides, which were barely curved and about 9 cm (3.5 inches) long.

Its bite was one of the strongest of any land animal ever. The force of its bite was at least 12,800 newtons (3000 pounds or 1368 kg).This is much stronger than some modern predators such as those of lions and tigers.

This allowed it to be the apex predator in its time, easily preying on herbivores such as Ouranosaurus.

Did Spinosaurus fight with Carcharodontosaurus

While the shark-toothed lizard was probably the top predator in its ecosystem, that doesn't mean it didn't have to compete with other top predators.

Over the years, there has been much speculation about whether Spinosaurus aegyptiacus ever fought with Carcharodontosaurus saharicus. We know that Spinosaurus lived in North Africa, while Carcharodontosaurus was restricted to Morocco and Algeria. However, there is little doubt that the two Cretaceous titans encountered each other.

Since Spinosaurus was most likely a specialized fish-eater, the two dinos were not in direct competition with their respective prey. Moreover, there is no scientific evidence of clashes between the two dinosaurs.

Fossils of another competitor for prey have been found in the same formations. Sarcosuchus, nicknamed "SuperCroc", lived at the same time as Carcharodontosaurus.

Image source: Fred Wierum, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Skull: Franko Fonseca from Redondo Beach, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Size: User:Dinoguy2, vectorized by User:Dinoguy2 and User:Dhatfield, modified by User:Slate Weasel to match existing chart., CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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