Temporal range: Early–Late Cretaceous
|An artist's illustration of Carcharodontosaurus saharicus|
| †Carcharodontosaurus saharicus|
Depéret & Savornin, 1925
Carcharodontosaurus was one of the largest theropod carnivores alongside Giganotosaurus and Tyrannosaurus Rex and likely slightly smaller than Spinosaurus. It was one of the largest of the carcharodontosaurid theropod family, and it lived in North Africa. It grew to be 43 feet (13 meters) long, 13 feet (3.9 meters) tall at the hip, and 7-8 tons in weight.
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 inche
s (1.6 meters) has now been proposed. Thus, the honor of the largest theropod skull now belongs to another huge carcharodontosaurid dinosaur, Carcharodontosaurus' close relative Giganotosaurus.
Carcharodontosaurus fossils were first found 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 to that used today. These first fossils of Carcharodontosaurus were destroyed during World War II. However, cranial material from a Carcharodontosaurus was again discovered in North Africa in 1996 by paleontologist Paul Sereno. Stephen Brusatte and Paul Sereno (2005) reported a second species of Carcharodontosaurus differing from C. saharicus in some aspects of the maxilla and braincase. The new species, which was discovered in Niger, is called C.iguidensis but recently new studies have brought to light that this dinosaur was a chimera.
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 brain endocast and inner ear anatomy of Carcharodontosaurus saharicus resembled modern crocodilians (Larsson, 2001). The size of the cerebrum relative to the total brain was similar to modern non-avian reptiles, but small relative to coelurosaurian theropods and birds. Ongoing discoveries and research by scientists will certainly shed further light on the physiology, behavior, and environmental circumstances and interactions of Carcharodontosaurus. 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. We've also found that its hearing was also quite keen, however, its sight was slightly limited because of the fact that its eyes were on the side of its head instead of straight forward like modern-day lions, dogs, or humans, as a fossil study shows.
Carcharodontosaurus lived in what is now Northern Africa from 105 to 94 million years ago. 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 dry and barren now, North Africa was likely very lush and full of life, including several rainforests. The elevation was flat, and there were many marches and plains around. Carhcarodontosaurus shared this lush habitat with prey items like the sailed hadrosaur Ouranosaurus and huge sauropods like Paralititan. 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.
- Carcharodontosaurus appears in the game: Jurassic Park Operation Genesis.
- It was featured in Monsters Resurrected losing to Spinosaurus.
- It can be created from DNA in Jurassic Park Builder.
- At the end of Series 3 of Primeval, the theropods in the background were probably Carcharodontosaurus.
- Carcharodontosaurus is incorrectly shown to live in South America in Dinosaur Planet and as predators of Saltasaurus. Carcharodontosaurus actually came from Africa, although South America was home to its fellow relatives Giganotosaurus, Tyrannotitan and Mapusaurus, so its possible it was a mistake of the name or people were more common with carcharodontosaurus, then giganotosaurus.
- Carcharodontosaurus appears in Lost World from Planet Dinosaur, where it is despicted to fight for land and loses to Spinosaurus over a fight for an Ouranosaurus carcass, however, the wounds it gave the other theropod became infected and helped to ultimately kill it. It reappears in New Giants where it fights a Sarcosuchus over a juvenile Paralititan.
- A Carcharodontosaurus named Big Red appears in the Asylum film 100 Million B.C., however since they were in South America it should've been referred to as a Giganotosaurus, Mapusaurus, or Tyrannotitan.
- Carcharodontosaurus also makes a few cameos in Dinosaur King.
- It was featured (unidentified) in Ricardo Delgado's Age of Reptiles: Ancient Egyptians mini-series.
Beyond T. rex
T. rex: Clash of the Titans
Monsters Resurrected: Biggest Killer Dino
Vertebrate Paleontology; Michael J. Benton
Ultimate Book of Dinosaurs; by Paul Dowswell, John Malam, Paul Mason, Steve Parker