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Dinosaur species


Carnotaurus's  headCarnotaurus's headCarnotaurus was a large theropod that lived in South America during the Late Cretaceous Period. It is known from a single fossil, an almost complete skeleton, that was found in Patagonia in 1984. The name Carnotaurus means “flesh-eating bull”, after its bull-like appearance: it had a short, bull-like head with its thick horns above its forward-facing eyes. Carnotaurus had a slender lower jaw with long, thin teeth. Its arms were extremely short, with four immobile, claw-less fingers. The skin on its body was lined with rows of bony lumps. It had a long, thin tail.

A gang of Aucasaurus raid a nestA gang of Aucasaurus raid a nest


Closely related to Carnotaurus was Aucasaurus, another Late Cretaceous South American theropod. A smaller animal than Carnotaurus, it, too, had tiny arms with useless hands. A fossil found of its skull was damaged, leading palaeontologists to think it might have been smashed during a clash with another Aucasaurus.


A Ceratosaurus pack scavengingA Ceratosaurus pack scavengingMore distantly related to Carnotaurus was a theropod that lived in North America, Europe and Africa in Jurassic times: Ceratosaurus. A 6-metre (20-foot) predator, it, too, had horns above it eyes as well as a large, blade-like horn on its snout. It had short arms, but, unlike those of Carnotaurus, they were powerfully built. Unusually for a theropod, Ceratosaurus had a row of bony spines running down its back. It preyed on a wide range of smaller dinosaurs and probably scavenged on whatever it came across.

Carnotaurus's fossil included, unusually, skin impressions. These showed that its skin was made up of disc-like scales. Unlike those of some lizards and snakes, the scales did not overlap.

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