Veterupristisaurus is a carcharodontosaurid from Jurassic Tanzania. It is the earliest known carcharodontosaurid. This little known predator was probably one of the most dangerous predators in all of the Jurassic. The current specimen found seems to have been about 33-36 feet (10-11 meters), although adult size may have been ever larger. It is a bit odd that this animal is not more popular, as it marked the beginning of the more advanced theropods that would later dominate the Cretaceous.Most theropods in the Jurassic are not as advanced as Veterupristisaurus. Animals like Allosaurus, Saurophaganax, and Torvosaurus were more primitive, despite being some of the most advanced animals of the Jurassic. Veterupristisaurus is the first of the carcharodontosaurids, which means it was almost like a Cretaceous predator in the Jurassic. What this means as well is that it would have been much more powerful than most other Jurassic predators, as Allosaurus and its relatives, although being quite large and in some cases massive (see Saurophaganax), usually had weak overall body builds and were built more for speed and causing bleeding damage. Veterupristisaurus is the ancestor of animals like Carcharodontosaurus, which is arguably one of the most dangerous land predators of all time (if not the most dangerous).
Veterupristisaurus would have been the dominant predator in Africa. Torvosaurus and Saurophaganax, as far as we know, were not present in Africa and even if they were Veterupristisaurus would have been just as dominant. Whereas allosaurids relied only on bleeding damage to kill prey, Veterupristisaurus used both power and bleeding damage in a deadly combination. It had slicing teeth perfect for causing heavy bleeding, but at the same time a powerful overall body build and one of the most powerful bites of any Jurassic theropod. The other primary predator in Tanzania was Ostafrikasaurus, a 30 foot animal that was in fact the first spinosaurid.
Evolutionary Importance Edit
Veterupristisaurus is very important in the evolution of theropod dinosaurs, and in two ways. Both will be covered here.
First of all, Veterupristisaurus marks the start of not only the carcharodontosaurids but of the advanced theropods that dominated the Cretaceous, the most dangerous large land predators in Earth history. These groups are the carcharodontosaurids, spinosaurids, and tyrannosaurids. These are not the only dominant theropods in the Cretaceous, but the groups that include large apex theropods. Animals like dromaeosaurids, troodontids, etc. would be better represented by a smaller theropod. Veterupristisaurus was ahead of its time, and therefore had a significant advantage over other predators, thus making it very successful.
The second evolutionary importance signified by Veterupristisaurus is the "bond" between spinosaurids and carcharodontosaurids. It coexisted with the first spinosaurid, Ostafrikasaurus. So that means the first spinosaurid and first carcharodontosaurid evolved in the same place and at around the same time. This started a coexisting relationship that would last for millions of years. Wherever you find carcharodontosaurids, there are usually spinosaurids, and vice versa. In South America, Africa, Asia, and Europe you can find both spinosaurids and carcharodontosaurids. It is believed that spinosaurids may have reached Australia, and the carcharodontosaurid Acrocanthosaurus existed in North America, but the primary continents for these animals were South America, Asia, Africa, and Europe, particularly Africa and South America. Carcharodontosaurids and spinosaurids represent two of the most dangerous animals of all time, but they coexisted for a few reasons. First of all, they usually lived together in areas that consisted of either lots of prey, large prey, or both. Also, if food on land became scarce spinosaurids could live purely on a diet of fish, although when food on land was plentiful spinosaurids almost definitely had a mixed diet so they could make the best of the region's food. Although carcharodontosaurids didn't have the opportunity of eating fish, they would be able to hunt any type of land prey due to their versatility and strength, so even when trying to share food with other large predators they could manage. So all in all, it makes sense how these two groups of theropods coexisted time and time again.